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

Sketching Tip: Reproducibility & DIY Stickers

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Reproducible methods (and results) are a key part of rigorous science. And reproducing art has been part of doing art for centuries.

So this month’s tip making stickers – an easy and cheap way to make reproductions of your own SciArt. Continue reading Sketching Tip: Reproducibility & DIY Stickers

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

Project Snapshot: Ecological Principles & Children’s Books

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While working on my project on ecological concepts in picture books, I’ve come across some fascinating research about using picture books to teach science.

Here are a couple points that are particularly interesting:

  • Talking animals can confuse children’s understanding of why/how animals do things. (Ganea et al 2014)
  • Children don’t differentiate between fact and fiction unless guided to do so. Books presented by adults are viewed as equally authoritative, and fantasy books can lead to children developing faulty explanations for themselves. (Owens 2003; behind a paywall – contact author for reprint)

 

 

Video of my SciArt talk about Drawing, Creativity, and Science

Two weeks ago, I gave a seminar to the University of Wyoming Zoology & Physiology Department.

Illustration: student disecting a fishEntitled Drawn to Science: Exploring the Historical and Contemporary Synergies between Drawing, Creativity, and Science, my talk roved through history, technologies that have influenced art and science, and looked at research and examples of how art and science
can do much more than make data look pretty.

Click here to view the talk! It’s about an hour long, including the Q&A following my presentation.