The impact of learner generated drawings in the comprehension of earth science concepts

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


Drawing was an activity that was common in science classes in the early 20th century. The students of today live in a world where making an image can be done effortlessly with the cameras they have access to in their cell phones. Recently there has been renewed interest in the use of drawing to enhance memory and understanding of scientific phenomena. The purpose of this research study was to see how drawing impacted student comprehension of Earth science concepts. Sub-questions addressed by the study were if students could improve in creating scientific drawings, if their attitudes about using drawing to learn would change as a result of drawing treatment, and if their engagement and enjoyment of Earth science would increase. The study was conducted for a period of 10 weeks in a 9th-grade Earth science classroom. The population of students was split into two treatment groups. While in the treatment period students were asked to create drawings of selected Earth science topics before any reading assignments or class discussion. Students were then asked to create a second drawing after an assigned reading and discussion of the same topics. Students not in the treatment group were not required to draw and received direct instruction through presentation slides and discussion. Each group was exposed to two rounds of treatment and two periods of non-treatment. A variety of data collection instruments were used in this study to compare the two groups quantitatively, including pre- and post-test scores, quiz scores, and a standards-based drawing rubric. Qualitative measures used to assess student attitudes and enjoyment included surveys, student interviews, and a journal of observations kept by the instructor. Results of the study showed that drawing did impact comprehension of the selected Earth science topics positively. Although student attitudes about drawing remained mostly unchanged, many indicated that they planned on using drawing to help them study for tests in the future.




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