GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 284-8
Presentation Time: 10:00 AM


LIBARKIN, Julie C., Geocognition Research Laboratory, Michigan State University, 206 Natural Science, East Lansing, MI 48824,

The value of drawing for learning, reasoning, and communicating lies in the efficiency of visual representations. In science, visual representations provide instructors with powerful means for communicating complex processes. However, students who may have limited prior knowledge or visual literacy may be overloaded by representations easily understood by experts. While scientific representations used in classrooms should be designed to maximize understanding among novices, novices can also be trained through the practice of drawing itself. Drawing by students can serve multiple purposes. For examples, drawings can engage learners, offer hands-on experience with the visual shorthand used by scientists, and generate unique insight into internal mental models held by students. Prior scholars have investigated the impact of drawing on student affect, including engagement and attitudes toward science, and have used drawings to elicit alternative conceptions. While use of drawings in instruction is growing more common, drawing analysis is mostly limited to qualitative coding. This study presents a quantitative approach to analyzing drawings that can be used to identify the most common internal mental models held within a student sample. This understanding of dominant models provides guidance for design of instruction that is responsive to student needs. In addition, quantitative analysis of drawings allows for assessment of change in student models over time. Studies of student drawings of the greenhouse effect, insects, and the local environment will be used to illustrate the efficacy of this approach for drawing analysis.