Deciding on drawing: the topic matters when using drawing as a science learning strategy

Andrea Kunze, Jennifer G. Cromley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Given the strong relationships found between high-level learning strategies such as drawing and summarising, and student comprehension and performance, we have seen an increase in drawing-to-learn strategy research. Despite the trend and promise of drawing-to-learn, many of the studies have been limited to high school and undergraduate chemistry and physics. Our aim was to explore a single understudied setting through multiple cases for drawing-to-learn, as a means of exploring the boundary conditions of when drawing-to-learn is an effective during-learning and post-learning strategy. Twenty-seven 7th grade students from an early secondary participated. Students received four lessons of physical science content, randomised to either a drawing or summarising condition. Students read a passage whilst drawing or summarising, then completed a post-test using their summary/drawing as a learning aid. Results from a series of analyses for non-normal data distribution and smaller sample size suggest the same discipline affects the learning process and the outcomes of learning differently. In addition, drawing-to-learn appears to be slightly less effective in early secondary than in the bulk of the literature. Results highlight how the different affordances of each specific topic, such as more emphasis on concepts/elements over relationships between those concepts, may contribute to these differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)624-640
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • Drawing-to-learn
  • early secondary
  • learning strategies
  • science
  • student performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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