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Journey since last summer

I have been engaged in two complimentary projects:

(1) I am developing a conceptual framework to understand why drawing exercises can sometimes improve learning and sometimes impede learning. The data in the literature (and my own classroom data from the previous two years) are very scattered and sometimes contradictory. Therefore, I felt that it would be necessary for me to create some kind of framework to make sense of all this chaos before moving forward and collecting more data. I created a draft framework last fall and am continuing with a deep search of the literature this spring to modify and improve the framework. (I presented my draft as a poster at the Biology Leadership Conference in Tuscon, Arizona in March, which helped move my progress along.) Creating the framework has been very insightful, but the literature search has been very time-consuming.

(2) Last fall I got IRB approval and conduced a survey in several sections of an introductory biology course to measure student experiences and perceptions before and after a drawing exercise on natural selection (N=169), validated by think-aloud interviews (N=14, using a LiveScribe Pen, which worked GREAT!) to try to quantify the relative importance of some of the variables in the framework. I have analyzed the pre/post lickert-scale questions on perceptions, and Ross Nehm analyzed the pre/post natural selection open response questions for me (partnerships are great!), but I still have to finish coding the drawings themselves and figure out how to relate the perceptions and content ability to the quality of the drawings. I also need to finish analyzing the interviews. I applied for a minigrant to help pay for some of my expenses and a student's time to help move things along, but was declined. My abstract for a poster at SABER was accepted though, which will help me make progress.

I have begun writing up my results as one paper (framework + data), but am thinking I might need to split it up and publish them separately because it is all getting very complicated.


Figure that illustrates my past year's work

Conceptual Framework KQ.jpg

This table is a first draft of a conceptual framework I am creating to: (1) make sense of the many variables that may influence the effectiveness of a drawing exercise, based on a review of the literature, (2) help guide future research, and (3) help develop best practices for teachers. The organization is based on possible sources (at left) and the cognitive consequences (at top) of different variables.The revised version of this framework incorporates learning goals of formative versus summative exercises, life-like versus diagrammatic drawings, and different subdisciplines of biology.


Sample of references  

Ainsworth, S., V. Prain, and R. Tytler. 2011. Drawing to learn in science. Science 333: 1096-1097. 

Dikmenli, M. 2010. Misconceptions of cell division held by student teachers in biology: A drawing analysis. Scientific Research and Essay 5(2): 235-247. 

Gobert, J. D., and J. J. Clement. 1999. Effects of student-generated diagrams versus student-generated summaries on conceptual understanding of causal and dynamic knowledge in plate tectonics. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 36: 39-53.

Kindfield, A. C. H. 1994. Biology diagrams: Tools to think with. The Journal of the Learning Sciences 3: 1-36. 

Köse, S. 2008. Diagnosing student misconceptions: using drawings as a research method. World Applied Sciences Journal 3(2): 283-293.

Schwamborn, A., H. Thillmann, M. Opfermann, and D. Leutner. 2011. Cognitive load and instructionally supported learning with provided and learner-generated visualizations. Computers in Human Behavior 27: 89-93.   

Tanner, K., and D. Allen. 2004. Approaches to biology teaching and learning: learning styles and the problem of instructional selection—engaging all students in science courses. Cell Biology Education 3: 197-201.

Uesaka, Y., E. Manalo, and S. Ichikawa. 2007. What kinds of perceptions and daily learning behaviors promote students’ use of diagrams in mathematics problem solving? Learning and Instruction 17: 322-335.

Van Meter, P., and J. Garner. 2005. The promise and practice of learner-generated drawing: literature review and synthesis. Educational Psychology Review 17: 285-325.