Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.Sc.)




Paul D Heideman

Committee Member

Michael D LaMar

Committee Member

Jason A Chen


Model building can use drawing or sketching as a mechanism to help the drawer learn information (study), solve problems (model-based reasoning), and communicate. Unfortunately, many students fail to master drawing or sketching skills due to the effort and instruction required. Additionally, few longitudinal, real-world classroom studies have been conducted on the teaching of drawing to students. We applied guided practice of drawing or sketching to an undergraduate first-semester Introductory Biology majors course, aiming to assess (1) the patterns of growth and decline in the use of sketching and other active study methods over subsequent semesters, (2) the relationship between usage of sketching by students and performance, and (3) student motivations (self-efficacy, utility value, interest, and cost) and attitudes towards drawing and sketching as a learning tool. Students with instruction on drawing as a learning tool decreased their use of passive study methods during the course and increased their use of active methods. Major changes included less rereading in studying and more drawing or sketching. One semester after the course, these students maintained part of the gains in drawing and active study methods, using both significantly more than prior to the drawing intervention. Students without the instruction in drawing showed few changes during the two semesters. Higher proportions of study time spent drawing predicted higher overall course point total. Students with instruction on drawing reported higher self-efficacy towards drawing. However, only cost value predicted use of drawing during study time, suggesting that instructors interested in teaching drawing as a learning tool should aim to decrease perceived cost for the students. These outcomes will be reassessed yearly. Our preliminary conclusion is that a course in this format can support development of drawing or sketching for learning while developing more active study methods.




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