Drawing-to-learn is a specific learning/reading strategy studied across many domains. In response to gaps in our knowledge about drawing-to-learn, we conducted a systematic meta-analysis of the literature published since the influential 2005 Van Meter and Garner literature review. We analyzed the benefits of directed learner-generated visual representations such as sketching, drawing, or computer-assisted creation of a full or partial static image. Forty-one peer-reviewed articles were screened in, together with 9 dissertations and 2 other documents; published from 2005 to 2018, these included 53 studies and 166 effects based on 8111 participants. The overall effect of drawing-to-learn across all dependent variable types (factual, inferential, and transfer) and both types of effects—comparing different types of drawing and comparing drawing to non-drawing conditions—was a significant g = 0.69. The overall effect was significant but differed across outcomes (g = 0.85 for factual, g = 0.44 for inferential, and g = 0.22 for transfer). Analyses across 6 moderators are presented. Not only does the literature continue to show that drawing-to-learn is better than the status quo, but directed drawing improves factual as well as inferential and transfer learning. Finally, researchers have found ways to improve drawing-to-learn instruction so that it can be even more effective than the simple directive to make a drawing.
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Omitted domains (e.g., humanities and mathematics) were not represented among these effects for these dependent variables and research designs.
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The authors thank Yanhong “Olivia” Zhong and Dawn M. Brown for assistance with tallying results and creating tables.
The research reported herein was supported by award #DRL-1560724 from the US National Science Foundation to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The opinions are solely the authors’ own and do not represent the policies of NSF or the US Government.
The authors have no conflicts of interest. The research did not involve human participants, so there was no consent procedure.
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Submitted for consideration in Journal of Science Education and Technology on May 15, 2019.
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Cromley, J.G., Du, Y. & Dane, A.P. Drawing-to-Learn: Does Meta-Analysis Show Differences Between Technology-Based Drawing and Paper-and-Pencil Drawing?. J Sci Educ Technol 29, 216–229 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-019-09807-6
- Visual representations
- Mental models