How has drawing been used as a learning tool in the classroom?
After reviewing 100 years of literature about children and drawing, Boston College faculty Walt Haney, Michael Russell and Damian Bebell discuss their findings in Drawing on Education: Using Drawings to Document Schooling and Support Change.
Haney et al. (2004) observed the following patterns about scholarly work addressing drawing in the classroom:
- Most of the literature addresses the psychological analysis of children’s drawings with respect to cognitive development or emotional issues.
- Most of the literature is about young children instead of older children.
- Drawing in large research projects is a recent development.
- Drawings are seldom used in research projects concerning education.
Haney et al. (2004) include their own research in their review and propose that student drawings can also be used to investigate classroom environments and school life. They found that asking students to draw their teacher at work reveals a lot about what goes on inside the classroom.
The authors began their research in 1994 and, after pilot-testing several prompts, included the following prompt in their initial study:
Think about the teachers and the kinds of things you do in your classrooms. Draw a picture of one of your teachers working in his or her classroom.
From this initial study, Haney et al. (2004) went on to develop prompts encouraging students to document educational phenomena. Students documented phenomena such as what they do when they read and what they do when they learn math. Examples of other prompts used in their research and a lengthy explanation of how Haney et al. (2004) evaluated student drawings can be found in their paper.
How can the work of Haney, Russell and Bebell be applied to classroom research addressing plant-based education?
Take a quiet afternoon to read and digest Haney et al. (2004) and come back here to share your thoughts. This article is available online from
Harvard Educational Review for $9.95.
You can also look for this article at your local college library.
Haney, Walt and Michael Russell, Damian Bebell. 2004. Drawing on education: Using drawings to document schooling and support change. Harvard Educational Review. 74(3): 241-272.
Are you interested in how drawing can be used in a biology classroom?
Join the conversation with this month’s featured guest, Jennifer Landin.