Hand drawing as a tool to facilitate understanding in undergraduate human biology: a critical review of the literature and future perspectives

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Abstract

Science and drawing have been paired for hundreds of years, and this synergy is still prevalent in research investigating the role of drawing for developing and assessing understanding. However, despite research at the primary and secondary levels of education, there is limited research on whether drawing facilitates learning at the undergraduate level, particularly in human biology. This subject is specifically important to focus on as it can be a core subject on some multidisciplinary programmes that do not require a science background at entry. The literature reviewed in this paper highlights that drawing tasks are well received by students and that they perceive the tasks to be helpful for their understanding. There is also some evidence that it might improve learning. However, this cannot be concluded with confidence due to some limitations with respect to comparison groups, including such a group being absent, using retrospective cohorts as a control, and not controlling for instruction between groups. Furthermore, some of the reported improvements in tests are practically very small. More work is warranted in this area as there is a risk that misconceptions can be passed on to students and between students using this type of teaching activity.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalStudies in Science Education
Early online date8 Apr 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Apr 2021

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