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Doodling May Draw Students into Science

Science teachers may want to add doodling to their lesson plans, say researchers who found the freehand drawing may help students learn science.

Scientists often rely on visual aids, using drawings, photos, diagrams, videos, graphs and other images not only to explain findings but also to help make discoveries. For instance, ancient Greek mathematicians did not write equations, but rather used diagrams to help arrive at their points.

Emerging research is now hinting that drawing can help students learn and perform science lessons, with a group of scientists, writing in tomorrow's (Aug. 26) issue of the journal Science, suggesting that drawing should be recognized alongside writing, reading and talking as a key element in science education.

For instance, researchers noted that many students are put off by science in school, because the rote learning method in which it is often taught forces them into unpleasant passive roles. Drawing, on the other hand, caters to individual learning differences, and surveys of teachers and students indicated that when students were asked to draw to explore and justify understandings in science, they were more motivated to learn.

"We can have students exercising their creativity and imagination in order to learn the canonical knowledge of science," researcher Russell Tytler, a science educator at Deakin University in Waurn Ponds, Australia, told LiveScience. "There is no need for it to be 'transmitted' to students as dead knowledge."

In addition, classroom research has shown that as students draw a concept such as sound waves to understand it better, they learn to reason creatively in a way distinct from, but complementary to, reasoning through argumentation.

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