European Political Science

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 365–383 | Cite as

Engaging Students in the Classroom: ‘How Can I Know What I Think Until I See What I Draw?’

  • paul f donnelly
  • john hoganEmail author
Teaching and Training


Recognising that the world into which students emerge upon graduation is characterised by constant change, we embrace a critical pedagogy that can be implemented in the classroom through the use of freehand drawing. Freehand drawing is a technique that can stimulate a critical stance, as visual representations allow us to comprehend the world differently, while permitting us see how others understand the world. First year students, in their first lecture, were asked to draw their interpretations of Irish politics and to explain in writing what they had drawn. The students were then placed in groups and asked to note what they saw in each other's drawings, allowing for the identification of general patterns and themes. In this context, freehand drawing facilitates our ability to: ‘see’ how we understand a topic and that there are multiple ways of understanding; test theories, orthodoxies and accepted truths; scrutinise tacit assumptions; and ponder other possibilities. In employing freehand drawing in this manner, our aim is to create a learning environment where students develop their capacity for critical self-reflection.


critical drawing freehand pedagogy thinking 



We thank the students of DT341 and DT365 who took part in this project.


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Copyright information

© European Consortium for Political Research 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Business, Dublin institute of TechnologyDublin 2Ireland

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