Instead of exploring drawing and learning as it applies to young learners, today we’re looking at drawing, learning and teachers.
How teachers view the environment influences how they make meaning about it. To investigate how teachers view the world around them, Christine Moseley, Blanche Desjean-Perrotta and Julianna Utley field-tested a scoring rubric assessing teachers’ perceptions of the environment as revealed through their drawings. Their findings are discussed in The Draw-An-Environment Test Rubric (DAET-R), Exploring Pre-Service Teachers’ Mental Models of the Environment.
Drawings have been used as a research tool for many years because they provide insight into an individual’s beliefs and how they make meaning about the world around them (Moseley et al., 2010). Because there has been little research into teachers’ mental images of the environment and how these images influence how teachers think about the environment, Moseley et al. (2010) made this the focus of their research.
To make it easier to quantitatively assess teachers’ mental images as revealed through their drawings, Moseley et al. (2010) created a rubric that enabled them to assign a score to specific elements (or “factors”) in a drawing. The rubric they designed was used to evaluate pre-service teachers’ replies to two prompts in the Draw-An-Environment Test (DAET). Teachers were instructed to draw a picture of what they thought the environment was and then were asked to provide a written definition for the environment. The two prompts pre-service teachers responded to were “My drawing of the environment is ___” and “My definition of the environment is ___”.
Moseley et al. (2010) designed this study to address two research questions:
- Is the Draw-An-Environment Test Rubric a valid assessment tool?
- What mental models (i.e., images) do early childhood pre-service teachers have of the environment?
The quick answer to their first research question is, “yes”. The rubric they created is a valid and reliable assessment tool. A thorough statistical analysis of the DAET-R can be found in their paper.
As for their findings regarding their second research question…
One hundred eighteen pre-K to fourth grade pre-service teachers (average age 26.9 years) participated in this study. The participants were enrolled in senior level science and math courses.
The drawing portion of the DAET was evaluated using the DAET-R. The evaluation focused on “the degree of evidence in the drawings of interactions” (Moseley et al., 2010). Scores were assigned if a factor was present, if a factor was not present, if a factor interacted with other factors and if two or more factors interacted with each other (Moseley et al., 2010). The research team assigned “degrees of evidence” using a scoring system of 0-3 points, with the highest point score assigned to drawings in which “the participant was trying to indicate an interaction among factors with an emphasis on a systems approach to the definition of environment” (Moseley et al., 2010).
The drawings they received revealed that the pre-service teachers do not consider humans to be an integral part of the environment. Sixty percent of the participants completing the DAET did not draw humans in their pictures and only 31% drew humans interacting with the environment in some way (Moseley et al., 2010). The drawings also revealed the pre-service teachers’ lack of understanding about interactions occurring between factors in the environment (Moseley et al., 2010). Participants included many factors in their drawings and while they labeled them with identification labels such as “cat” or “tree”, they did not assign conceptual labels like “pollination” or “growth” (Moseley et al., 2010). Only two of the 118 drawings scored represented an understanding of how systems are dependent upon each other in the natural environment (Moseley et al., 2010).
The research team observed several drawings of homes, bedrooms, schools, classrooms and urban neighborhoods — scenes suggesting to Moseley et al., 2010 that the word environment did not bring forth images of nature in the minds of their participants. Citing the work of several other studies, Moseley et al. (2010) concluded that their sample population of pre-service teachers had an “object view” of the environment instead of a view in which humans interacted with the environment.
Before I continue, I need to point out that, prior to participants completing the DAET, Moseley et al. (2010) asked participants about their “residential experiences” (i.e., where they have lived for most of their lives). They found out that 21% of their sample population had lived in a rural environment, 32% in an urban environment, and 46% in a suburban environment. It should also be pointed out that prior to their participation in this study, the pre-service teachers had not received any training in environmental education (Moseley et al., 2010).
The results of the drawing section of the DAET are consistent with the results observed in the written section of the test, an evaluation that Moseley et al. (2010) described in a separate paper. The research team evaluated the drawing and written portions of the DAET separately so that the DAET-R could be evaluated for its validity as an assessment tool.
The results of their study prompted Moseley et al. (2010) to call for teacher education programs “that support pre-service teachers’ development of a conceptual model of the environment that integrates humans and the abiotic and biotic factors within the environment” as this would better prepare teachers to teach children about organisms, the environment, and biodiversity.
Read more about the research team’s recommendations and see how they used the DAET-R to evaluate drawings. Purchase a copy of this paper online or
search for this article at your local college library. A copy of the DAET and the DAET-R are included in this paper.
Moseley, Christine, Blanche Desjean-Perrotta and Julianna Utley. 2010. The Draw-An-Environment Test Rubric (DAET-R): exploring pre-service teachers’ mental models of the environment. Environmental Education Research.