Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Importance of Drawing in Science Education

The August 2011 issue of Science magazine has an article about the value of drawing in science education. Authors Shaaron Ainsworth, Vaughan Prain and Russell Tytler say that "Certainly making visualizations is integral to scientific thinking." Diagrams, graphs, videos, photographs, scientific illustrations, sketches, etc. are used by scientists to make discoveries, help them understand complex information, and explain their findings to others.

The article explores the value of drawing in science classes to enhance engagement, represent scientific information, improve reasoning and thinking skills, communicate ideas, and improve learning. Representation in Learning Science (RiLS) is a project that shows how drawing can be a central part of hands-on, multimodal learning in science. Preliminary results show that students who do drawings in their science education programs are engaged more in class, discuss at a higher level, and perform better in workbook activities.

The research shows that not only drawings but all forms of visualization (photographs, videos, animation, models, etc.) help students learn and understand complex science ideas. More research is being done but the article says, "...what is clear is the growing interest in drawing as it reflects new understandings of science as a multimodal discursive practice, as well as mounting evidence for its value in supporting quality learning."

Many visual art teachers are realizing that their field is really more about the "Visual" than the "Art" and that, just like English teachers help students learn anything through words, and math teachers help students learn anything through numbers, art teachers can help students learn anything through visual images, objects, spaces and visual experiences.

Click on the heading above see the article in Science magazine.

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