Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




Paul Heideman

Committee Members

Jennifer Stevens

Paul Kieffaber


Drawing to Learn (D2L) is a learning aid that encourages STEM students to interact with abstract concepts in STEM by sketching. D2L is not an intuitive skill, and researchers strive to provide students with guidelines on how to master this method. One potential way to enhance the D2L method for students is by incorporation of visual cues, specifically color. While many students choose to incorporate color into their models without explicit instruction to do so, we have found no research on: a) why students use color in sketching, b) its effects on D2L. This study used interviews, surveys, and course artifacts to identify how and why college students use color in D2L. Our results indicate that students believe color is a useful tool for organizing content and emphasis that thereby improves their recall and understanding. We hypothesize that color may have these effects because of its ability to increase attention and engagement with materials. We found that many students hesitate to use color with D2L on paper because of time constraints and limited access to materials for marking in color, but nearly all students sketching on an electronic device used color. The findings from this study can be used as recommendations for students and instructors and as background for further investigation on the costs and benefits of color in D2L.