4.2 Sustained Investigation Rubric

6 min readoctober 27, 2020


Sherry Ross

AP Art & Design 🎨

18 resources
See Units

Scoring Rubric for Sustained Investigation

Requirements and Prompts

Submit 15 images that demonstrate:
  • Sustained Investigation through practice, experimentation, and revision (P,E,R)
  • Sustained Investigation of materials, processes, and ideas
  • Synthesis of materials, processes, and ideas
  • 2D/3D/Drawing skills (depending on the type of portfolio submitted)
State the following in writing:
  • Identify the Inquiry or Question(s) that guided your Sustained Investigation
  • Describe how your Sustained Investigation shows evidence of practice, experimentation, and revision GUIDED BY your Inquiry or Question(s). (1200 characters maximum, including spaces, for a response to both prompts)
Questions that guide the Sustained Investigation are typically formulated at the beginning of portfolio development.Students should formulate their Inquiry or Question(s) based on their own experiences and ideas. These guiding questions should be documented and further developed throughout the Sustained Investigation.

The Rubric


Scoring Criteria - Let's break it down! 🤔

Row A

    Row A deals with your Inquiry, "the process of asking questions in order to seek, to search, and to discover". As you can see, this score point assesses whether or not you IDENTIFY an inquiry and if your work is a visual answer to the inquiry.
    For instance, if the inquiry identified is "How can I use the translucent properties of oil paint to represent the beautiful variety of skin tones through underlying colors in portraits of POC?", possible points could be broken down like this:
    1 pt: You state your inquiry (Guiding Question) and your visual evidence was unrelated paintings in various media. There might be a portrait in there, there might be an oil, there might be a POC, however, they aren't ALL aligned with your inquiry. You didn't support or demonstrate the inquiry statement with the visual evidence. Alternatively, you don't give an actual INQUIRY, but possibly just wrote something like "I wanted to get better in my art".
    2 pts: You IDENTIFY the inquiry and may show art that doesn't necessarily showcase portraits of POC, maybe it's all portraits - but not all POC or all done in oil. It relates but doesn't ANSWER your question. The visual evidence demonstrates awareness and an attempt at showing the inquiry but is not entirely successful.
    3 pts: You IDENTIFY the inquiry, and it is clearly evident that the question GUIDED all of the work. Your visual evidence SUPPORTS the idea of the inquiry - there are all oil paintings of POC. but there might be uneven success - this means some of the work might be of a better/lesser caliber than others.
    Row A counts for 12% of your overall score and is represented by "SI-A" in the self-grading formula above.

Row B

    Row B deals with Practice, Experimentation, and Revision (P,E,R)
    • Practice—the repeated use of materials, processes, and/or ideas
    • Experimentation—TESTING materials, processes, and/or ideas
    • Revision—making a purposeful change, connection, or improvement
    Breaking down the score points, please notice Row B seems to dovetail nicely with Row A. If you don't have a sustained investigation (guided by inquiry), you can't practice, experiment, or revise it. Make sense? 😉 😎 For the example above, the things you might address for this row would be things like mixing shades, practicing applying paint in a glazingtechnique (building up thin layers of paint to create depth), trying underpainting, posed vs. candid portraits, different compositions and backgrounds, etc.
    1 pt: You DO SHOW any or all of the P, E, R, but your work does not show a sustained investigation. Using the example inquiry given for row A, you might have tried a variety of techniques but say you did a variety of paintings - maybe portraits, landscapes or still life, and they might not be in oil.... so it doesn't tie to your Sustained Investigation.
    2 pts: Your P, E, or R relates to the SI (notice that you have an SI here, which differs from point 1) AND your written evidence RELATES to your visual evidence. So you have the SI, and it is tied to your visual evidence, similar to the Row A score point 2. So you have an idea, you tried some stuff, but it's still not solid. Example - You try creating different skin tones, but they aren't for POC, it relates.... but it's not the evidence you need for what you wrote.
    3 pts: Your P, E, or R is not only obvious but what you learned from it DRIVES the work and you are able to articulate it in the written evidence. Your P.E.R all aligns with and revolves around the different ways you used of oil paint to create varied portraits of POC.
    Row B counts for 18% of your overall score and is represented by "SI-B" in the self-grading formula above.

Row C

    Row C deals with the Materials, Processes, and Ideas (M, P, I).
    • Materials—Physical substances used to make works of art and design
    • Processes—Physical AND conceptual (thought, planning, organizing, etc) activities involved with making works of art and design
    • Ideas—Concepts used to make works of art and design (that can be evident virtually or in writing)
    For this score point, you need to show how you conceptualized the work, what you used to help plan or visualize it, and the physical media you chose to create it.
    1 pt: Little to NO evidence that M, P, and I work together. So, if you just "paint stuff" - that is the use of a material(M). Simplistic, right? 🤔 It doesn't show that you planned or picked (P) painting for any reason other than you just wanted to paint (no idea). There's nothing tying everything together except a media.
    2 pts: Visual relationships between M, P, and I become evident. Here, let's say you created those same paintings (M) of different things but added sketchbook evidence showing you tried different things as well. That becomes a process (P). You are showing the relationship of M and P visually.
    3 pts: The evidence supports that ALL THREE (M, P, and I) components are working together as a result of your choices. This is SYNTHESIS. So, for this.... you created paintings (M), you used your sketchbook (P), and then decided to make them all portraits (Idea - following your SI guided question)
    Row C counts for 18% of your total score and is represented by "SI-C" in the self-grading formula above.

Row D

    Row D deals with your skills. You may review those skills here 2D/Draw or 3D. Please note that this is the only portion of this rubric that really addresses how well you actually DO the art. The majority of this rubric is about how well you THINK, EXPLORE, EXPERIMENT, and REVISE your guiding question. It cannot be understated how important it is that the guiding question comes first, as all SI work should spring from it! 🙌🏽
    1 pt: Rudimentary (emerging or underdeveloped) skills. Be honest with yourself. If you need to improve, get to work. You can do it! 👍🏽
    2 pts: Moderate (adequate) and good (proficient) skills. Lots of work falls here. Remember, it's a range in each band and this one tends to be big.
    3 pts: Good (proficient) and advanced (highly developed) skills. Like other bands, place yourself where the majority of the work scores!
    Row D counts for 12% of your total score. SI - D for the above formula.
Hopefully, this will help you score your work as you go, identify your strengths and weaknesses, using the rubric, to create the best portfolio possible. 🙌🏽 🥰 🎨

Sustained Investigation Examples🥳

Here are some examples provided by the College Board. Practice using the rubric to evaluate them, since you will know the score - it's a great way to see if you grasp the rubric and to figure out what parts confuse you. At the end of each example, the give a rationale about why that work received the score.
As you practice with these examples, it's important for you to remember several things.
  • These are designed to demonstrate score points and there is a broad range of achievement within each band.
  • They are not listed so you can copy the work. This work is already created. You need to create the work only YOU CAN CREATE. 🥰. Show the what is important to YOU.
  • Do NOT compare yourself to these works. Artists come in all different skill levels, work across many media, and deal with different ideas. Don't feel that your work is less than any work shown..... it's just different. Different is good! 🙌🏽 💯
Browse Study Guides By Unit
🔖Unit 1: Course Overview
🍥Unit 2: Portfolio Design Skills
🤔Unit 3: Portfolio Analysis
💯Unit 4: Exam Rubrics
💡Unit 5: Tips and Tricks
📚Study Tools
👉Subject Guides

Stay Connected

© 2024 Fiveable Inc. All rights reserved.

© 2024 Fiveable Inc. All rights reserved.