Suggestions for integrating drawing into university-level biology courses

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I’m collaborating with the coordinator of a series of undergraduate Animal Biology labs this semester. She is interested in integrating drawing more fully and effectively into the work that instructors and students do in those labs. Her motivation stems, at least in part, from noticing that photographing specimens appears to be the most common way students interact with specimens in these labs. And yet, based on low exam scores, students aren’t getting much out of taking photos.

And so, we’ve been talking about how to utilize drawing as an active learning tool, as well as a self- and summative assessment strategy. Considerations include how to introduce drawing to TAs and students, and how to integrate it in myriad forms (phylogenetic trees, graphs, food web diagrams, specimen sketches, etc.) throughout lab activities, homework assignments, quizzes and exams.

We’ll be doing a TA training session before the semester begins, to ensure the TAs have basic familiarity and comfort in sketching and to troubleshoot facilitating it with their students.

As we planned all thi, I realized that one thing I take for granted is my capacity to articulate how and why to utilize drawing in these ways.

And so, I offered to write up some text which she could copy or modify and distribute to TAs and students. What follows is what I’ve come up with. Feel free to utilize it, and if you do, please do let me know how it goes, if and how you adapted it, etc. Continue reading Suggestions for integrating drawing into university-level biology courses

News: SciArt for Children

 

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For almost a year now, I’ve been contributing natural history and science illustrations+text to a gorgeous children’s magazine called root & star.

My pieces have provided artful science-based exposure to fur, fish nests, chicken language, and coming soon, things that live in/under snow!

In the next year, I’ll focus on natural history collections, raccoon “hands,” horses, magpies, and the wind.

I’m telling you about root & star because:

I think it’s a phenomenal way to engage children in artful thinking and exploration. I love the magazine and love being part of it. There’s no monetary benefit to me if you subscribe or pick up a copy at one of the retailers now stocking it.

But, that’s fine — I only hope you’ll find it wonderful, too!

Sketchbook Snapshot: illustrating tortoises and hares

“Too much importance cannot be given to drawing, as it is not only an excellent device for securing close observation, but it is also a rapid method of making valuable notes.”

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Inspired by Louis Agassiz, the Harvard Committee of Ten insisted that drawing be an essential part of science education at their institution. While this curricular edict was issued in 1894, it is a learning and research recommendation whose value I rediscover every time I work on the “Ecologically True Story of the Tortoise and the Hare.”

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Right now, I am chipping away at storyboards and draft text for version of the story which will be exhibited at the University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute in Spring 2017. Continue reading Sketchbook Snapshot: illustrating tortoises and hares

Workshop: Drawn to Wildlife

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Drawn to Wildlife: Sketching for Scientists
Cody, Wyoming

11/17/2016 ● 12:30-4:00 pm ● Lab, Draper Natural History Museum● limited to 25 participants

This hands-on workshop for wildlife biologists will take place during The Wildlife Society’s Wyoming chapter annual meeting.

Participants will be be introduced to a suite of foundational sketching techniques, and will include discussion of materials and strategies useful for field sketching and incorporating drawing into research practices. Continue reading Workshop: Drawn to Wildlife

Artful Science: Creativity Research

There’s a lot of research into creativity and critical thinking.

What’s particularly relevant are studies looking at how arts integration can influence, and often enhance, both creativity and critical thinking beyond the arts.

Below, I’ve quoted four articles that speak to this point, but there are many others. Get in touch for more! Continue reading Artful Science: Creativity Research