Method Draw Your Knowledge
The idea behind this method is to have students use drawing as a way to tease out their underlying understanding, beliefs, opinions or knowledge of a concept. [i]These drawings can then be further used during class-time to explore the collective understanding of a new subject or as a way of elaborating students prior knowledge in a specific area. The message here to students is to be open to question, to change, e.g. a student from Leuven may well draw ‘the universe’ differently than a student from Capetown. Students often think that prior knowledge is something they can easily talk about, but there is much more to prior knowledge than generally considered.[ii] This method aims at elaborating such prior knowledge.
Aim To introduce a new subject and uncover prior knowledge
Target group For Bachelor and Master students of any level.
Intended learning outcomes
  • Enhanced metacognitive skills: self-assessment, what do I “know” (see, understand, feel, …) and what not.
  • Increased awareness of images, ideas, thoughts, feelings… from which they speak and listen and others listen and speak also from their own images, ideas, thoughts, feelings.
Students take a blank sheet of paper and a pencil and are asked to draw a concept from a subject area, e.g. draw ‘research’ or ‘education’ or ‘cognitive’. They then discuss the image they have drawn. It is good to do this first in pairs and compare afterwards with other pairs and/or discuss in plenary session. The facilitator can address the most stereotypical images, e.g. for education a blackboard and he/she checks how many students have chosen that. The facilitator asks for other images and/or give other examples, e.g. a tablet, a robot, … the facilitator and students discuss why certain images are (not) used and where this is coming from.

A variation : students bring an object to class that represents their concept of a subject theme or element of content.

This technique could also be used as an assessment : students bring an object to the exam that represents their comprehension of the subject content, e.g. an object that represents the notion “curriculum” in the course “Curriculum Studies”.

The facilitator leads the discussion, focusing on differences/different perspectives and similarities in prior conceptions of a theme or element of content.

Students draw and discuss their drawings.

Preparation The facilitator needs to define a key concept or theme within the subject that will be introduced to students.
Required resources and equipment Paper and pencil per student.
Success factors There has to be a safe class atmosphere .
Advantages The teaching staff member and the students gets insight into the underlying understanding, beliefs, opinions or knowledge of a concept.
Student have to think profoundly what they are going to draw.
Disadvantages Drawing can form a real barrier for some students.
Additional information

[i] Briell, J., Elen, J., Depaepe, F., & Clarebout, G. (2010). The Exploration of Drawings as a Tool to Gain Entry to Students’ Epistemological Beliefs. In : Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 655 – 688.

[ii] Evens, M., Tielemans, K., Elen, J., & Depaepe, F. (2018). Pedagogical content knowledge of French as a foreign language: differences between pre-service and in-service teachers. In : Educational Studies, 2018, pp. 1 – 18

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