The words “draw” and “art” can be scary words. I observe this repeatedly when I interact with the public. It is for this reason that I invite the public to doodle in my traveling guest sketchbook instead of draw in it.
How people make meaning has been an interest of mine for many years. How they make meaning through drawing is of particular interest.
In this weekly column about teaching and learning, we often look at examples that involve drawing activities specific to some aspect of botany education. Less often we look at how drawing, the more expressive kind, affects understanding. We’ll do a bit more of this today.
In Do Attention Span and Doodling Relate to Ability to Learn Content from an Educational Video?, Ashley Aellig, Sarah Cassady, Chelsea Francis and Deanna Toops, student researchers at Capital University, evaluate the effect doodling has on student learning.
Thirty-four self-selected students participated in the study. Students were given paper and pens to take notes and doodle before watching a 25-minute video about communication styles (Aellig et al., 2009). Students watched the video together, then completed a questionnaire that included an assessment tool designed to measure attention span. Upon completing the questionnaire, students handed their notes, doodles and questionnaires to Aellig et al. (2009).
The research team found that there was not a significant relationship between doodling score, attention span, and the number of correct responses to the quiz about the video. Their hypothesis — students with shorter attention spans would have more complex doodles and lower scores on the video quiz — was not supported (Aellig et al., 2009). Instead what they observed were students who did very little doodling, but plenty of note taking. Of the students participating in the study, only six doodled while most of them (n=24) took notes (Aellig et al., 2009).
Why didn’t the students doodle during the video? Aellig et al. (2009) propose a few possible reasons:
- The sample population is too embedded in the texting generation and may be less-likely to doodle.
- The video’s content was not challenging enough.
- The self-selected sample population (students at Capital University) are already engaged in their learning in ways that do not involve doodling.
In the discussion section of their paper, Aellig et al. (2009) propose an idea for future research about doodling in the classroom. They propose creating a doodling culture by embedding doodlers among the population of student research subjects. Their thought is that this would demonstrate to the sample population “that doodling is acceptable” as a form of notetaking (Aellig et al., 2009).
I would like to propose another suggestion to future student researchers who address this topic.
What if doodling were not left to chance? What if subjects were assigned a specific doodling activity to complete during a task, as was conducted by Jackie Andrade in her research about doodling and efficiency?
Readers, what do you think?
Aellig, Ashley, Sarah Cassady, Chelsea Francis, and Deanna Toops. 2009. Do attention span and doodling relate to ability to learn content from an education video? Epistimi. 4: 21-24. Web. <http://www.capital.edu/epistimi-2009> [accessed 3 January 2013]
Epistimi is a student research journal at Capital University in Ohio.