Archive for the ‘drawing’ Category

Bird Fest image The Santa Ana Watershed Association will host their annual Fall Festival of Birds next weekend at Chino Creek Wetlands and Educational Park. There will be bird-themed activities, exhibitors and a NestWatch Workshop. Come to the festival to learn more about the NestWatch citizen science program operated by the
Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

2013 Fall Festival of Birds
Saturday, November 2, 2013
10 AM to 2 PM

Directions to Chino Creek Wetlands

Read Full Post »

If you have taken drawing classes or browsed through books about drawing, you have no doubt seen or experienced the drawing exercise requiring you to copy an inverted line drawing. This technique is practiced because it is thought that inverting a subject while drawing it enhances drawing accuracy (Edwards, 1999).

Researchers Dale J. Cohen and Holly Earls (2010) designed an experiment to investigate if drawing inverted images leads to improved accuracy or if it leads to drawing errors. They hypothesized that interfering with an artist’s spatial perception would not result in more accurate drawings. They based their hypothesis on the research of Cohen and Bennett (1997) who determined that the foundation of drawing errors is rooted in an artists’ perception of a stimulus. Cohen and Earls (2010) hypothesized that, if an artist’s perception of a stimulus is distorted, then this would be evident in their drawing of this stimulus.

In their study, Cohen and Earls (2010) used human faces as the drawing stimulus because of the extensive drawing research involving human faces. The investigators assigned a drawing task to 121 students. Their sample population was composed of non-artists and artists. Half were assigned the task of drawing inverted faces and half were assigned the task of drawing faces in their normal upright orientation. Participants’ drawings were evaluated for the accurate representation of spatial relationships between facial features, the accurate representation of selected facial features, and the accuracy of whole-face drawings. Four critics rated the drawings. Two of the critics were art history professors and two were studio art professors.

The independent ratings of each critic were analyzed statistically. Data revealed that drawing inverted subjects had a significant negative effect on the drawing of spatial relationships. Rating data also indicated that orientation had no significant effect on the drawings of specific facial features or on the accuracy of whole-face drawings (Cohen and Earls, 2010). Because orientation had a negative effect on the drawing of spatial details, Cohen and Earls (2010) concluded that drawing an inverted stimulus does not improve drawing accuracy.

That is to say, drawing accuracy when one is drawing faces.

Can the same be said about the drawings of inverted images of plants?

For more information about Cohen and Earls’ investigation of this popular art technique, see Inverting an Image Does Not Improve Drawing Accuracy.

Literature Cited

    Cohen, Dale J. and Susan Bennett. 1997. why can’t most people draw what they see? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. 23(3): 609-621. Read Review

    Cohen, Dale J. and Holly Earls. 2010. Inverting an image does not improve drawing accuracy. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts. 4(3): 168-172. Web. http://people.uncw.edu/cohend/research/papers/cohen%20and%20earls%202010.pdf [accessed 11 October 2013]

    Edwards, Betty. 1999. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. See eBook

Read Full Post »

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:

  1. Most of the literature addresses the psychological analysis of children’s drawings with respect to cognitive development or emotional issues.
  2. Most of the literature is about young children instead of older children.
  3. Drawing in large research projects is a recent development.
  4. 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.

Literature Cited

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.

Read Full Post »

Jennifer, how do you use drawing in your classroom today?

: Thanks to my dissertation, I developed a course in Biological Illustration. As far as I’m aware, it’s the only one of its kind because it’s a biology class. We cover diversity and anatomy of plants, fungi and animals, how to identify groups or species, and linking form to function.

From my experience, illustration is a great way to teach comparative anatomy, evidence-based thinking, and of course, observational skills.

The course has been a huge success – we recently doubled the class size and the students have now exhibited their work at a state museum and aquarium. Check out student work here and here.

Readers, do you have questions for Jennifer about using drawing in your classroom or program?

Ask your questions today

Read Full Post »

Jennifer, twice in your dissertation you bring attention to students’ indifference towards plants. In one instance you observe that one of the two exercises in which student performance was the lowest, was an exercise about drawing plants. You share a student’s comment about plants being “kind of dull to draw” (Landin, 2011). You also share that during the plant lab, students did not work in their Lab Workbooks and paid little attention to the teaching assistant. You also mention that some students viewed the plant lab as not being very important. Do you have any thoughts or hunches about what might be contributing to student indifference towards plants?


That is an excellent question.

I have three ideas (just opinions really): 1) a majority of students in the biology program are planning on health careers so they tend to be very focused on humans; 2) a general human-centric focus of society; 3) a lack of knowledge about plants.

I think all three conditions could be addressed by a better understanding of plant biology. It’s interesting that biology classes about a hundred years ago were more equally focused on plants and animals. Now though, even with the increase in understanding of cell biology (which is so similar between plants and animals), we teach mostly about animals. If you consider the decrease in agricultural pursuits, society has really lost a ton of awareness about plants.

It’s too bad because plants are incredibly fascinating in defense mechanisms, competitive behaviors and symbiotic relationships. There’s so much ACTION in plants, but it’s mostly chemical rather than physical.

I would strongly encourage teachers to use more plants in their lessons – they’re easy to grow in a classroom, students can have a sense of “ownership” when they care for a plant, and there are so many great topics to cover using plants (history of agriculture & society, medicine, biological competition, experimental design, where food comes from, etc.).

Readers, have you encountered student indifference towards plants in your own classroom?

Share your stories

Read Full Post »

We learn from Dr. Dale J. Cohen again this week.

This time we learn about the experiments he designed to investigate the relationship between drawing accuracy and how artists look at a subject. In Look Little, Look Often: The Influence of Gaze Frequency on Drawing Accuracy, Cohen presents interesting information about how artists glance between a subject and their drawing.

Let’s begin by defining gaze frequency.

Dr. Cohen defines gaze frequency as “the rate at which artists glance between their drawing and the stimulus” (Cohen, 2005). What Cohen calls the “stimulus” in his experiments, I will refer to as the “subject” here. While stimulus is the more appropriate term to use, it would be confusing to use the term in this review without you having read Cohen’s review of drawing accuracy, stimulus interpretation and how stimulus interpretation can influence accuracy and the way marks are made on paper. Since his stimuli are what we would call subjects, I will refer to them in this way.

In Look Little, Look Often, Cohen (2005) describes four experiments conducted at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Once again, some students participated as “artists” (i.e., they completed assigned rendering tasks), while others participated as “critics” who rated the accuracy of drawings produced by those in the artist group.

In his first experiment, Cohen (2005) investigated if there was a correlation between gaze frequency and drawing accuracy. Artists (both art majors and nonart majors) were shown two color photographs — portraits of males seen from the shoulders up (Cohen, 2005). The photos were placed about 51 cm to the right of the participant and at a 45 degree angle, as this allowed the video recorder to record the artist and how they worked (Cohen, 2005). The video recorder was positioned in front of the artist and was placed in a doorway of an adjoining room behind a curtain with a hole cut out for the camera lens (Cohen, 2005). Artists were given 10 minutes to work on the photographs (Cohen, 2005). The video recordings were viewed by a coder who coded eye movements using a software program written by Cohen. Gaze frequency, the number of times an artist switched their gaze “from the photo to the drawing and back again per second” was measured in Hertz (Cohen, 2005).

Data collected in Experiment 1 demonstrated that a positive relationship exists between gaze frequency and accuracy rating. That is, the higher the gaze frequency, the higher the accuracy rating.

Experiments 2,3 and 4 further explored the findings of Experiment 1. In these experiments, gaze frequency was manipulated. Here is a very quick look at these experiments and the results of each.

    Experiment 2
    Research Question: Does gaze frequency influence drawing ability?
    Findings: Gaze frequency influences drawing accuracy only for trained artists. Cohen (2005) found that decreasing the gaze frequencies of trained artists decreased the accuracy of their drawings.

    Experiment 3

    Cohen (2005) repeated Experiment 2. This time, though, he increased the gazing times because it appeared that the times set in Experiment 2 were too fast for non-artists. In this experiment, gaze frequency was “constant across artistic training levels” (Cohen, 2005). Results indicated that gaze frequency can inhibit artist drawing accuracy.

    Experiment 4

    Cohen (2005) repeated Experiment 3. This time there were only two gaze frequency periods. One was 3 seconds and the other 10 minutes. Because of observations observed in Experiment 1 (see Cohen’s paper), it was hypothesized that the drawings created during the 3-second gazing period would be less accurate than the 10-minute period. Data from this experiment indicated that gaze frequency inhibits drawing accuracy (Cohen, 2005). Raters rated the drawings rendered at 3 seconds to be less accurate than those rendered at 10 minutes — a time period in which artists could look at the subject and their drawing at will and not in response to an experimental stimulus (Cohen, 2005). It was also observed that trained artists switched their gaze more often than non-artists (Cohen, 2005).

The summaries above are brief and don’t do Cohen’s experiments justice. To truly understand his methods, his results, and how his assessment of 130 artists demonstrates that higher gaze frequencies result in more accurate drawings, read Cohen (2005). His article is available online on the website of the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Literature Cited

Cohen, Dale J. 2005. Look little, look often: The influence of gaze frequency on drawing accuracy. Perception & Psychophysics. 67(6): 997-1009. Web. http://people.uncw.edu/cohend/research/papers/Cohen%202005.pdf
[accessed 11 September 2013]

Gaze frequency and drawing plants. What have you noticed?

Share your comments below.

Read Full Post »

Designing a research project requires an incredible amount of thoughtful and methodical planning. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

Did all go smoothly for Jennifer Landin during her investigation of the use of perceptual drawing in the classroom? Did she encounter any problems?

I asked her. She replied:

Did I ever! I come from a science background – research on plants, animals or cells is SO much easier than research on people! It was a real learning experience for me.

The biggest issue involved conducting research in an actual class. Many educational researchers do this – it’s the most convenient approach. But I think I’d conduct individual testing in the future. By simplifying the activity, I could control more variables, monitor individual behaviors better, and end up with much better data.

The most unexpected event was…

Read More

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: