Using self-made drawings to support modelling in science education

Frank Leenaars, Wouter van Joolingen, Lars Bollen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


The value of modelling in science education is evident, both from scientific practice and from theories of learning. However, students find modelling difficult and need support. This study investigates how self-made drawings could be used to support the modelling process. An experiment with undergraduate students (n = 37) at a predominantly technical university led to three conclusions. 1. Most learners created realistic rather than schematic drawings of real world systems. Furthermore, learners who represented situations realistically identified a greater number of important aspects of these situations than learners who represented them purely schematically. 2. Access to simulations during the construction of these drawings led to increased insight into the effects of variables that can be manipulated. However, participants with access to simulations thought of fewer important variables that were not explicitly available in the simulation than participants without this access. 3. Participants almost never drew multiple objects with a single stroke and generally drew objects sequentially. These patterns in the digital drawing process can simplify automatic sketch segmentation, which can be used to support learners in creating models from drawings
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-94
JournalBritish journal of educational technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2013


  • METIS-291910
  • IR-83941


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