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Learner-generated drawing

Working groupMultiple Representations Lab
FundingIWM budget resources
Project description

Using tablet-PCs for learning in schools is continuously growing. This dissertation project deals with how tablets can support students in constructing drawings. Constructing drawings during learning from text increases learning outcomes in scientific content domains with visual-spatial information.

Constructing learner-generated drawings can be described as a generative learning strategy during which learners compose a drawing of the learning content that depicts the most important aspects of the text (van Meter & Firetto, 2013). Against the backdrop of theories of multimedia learning it is assumed that learners generate a pictorial representation through deeper elaboration of the text in addition to the verbal representation resulting from reading. This leads to better learning outcomes in contrast to learners who do not engage in drawing.

Within the project we examine whether and how learner-generated drawing can be supported by using tablets. Because of their technical characteristics we assume that they can support composing drawings. Due to the intuitive interface learners can switch back and forth between colors and thicknesses or eliminate errors with simple touch gestures. Just as easy one can add text and change its position within the drawing. The results of initial studies could not confirm these assumptions. Further studies will investigate different alternatives to support learners with tablets in constructing high-quality drawings (that means elaborate drawings depicting the learning content correctly) in order to optimally benefit from drawing.

Examples for learner-generated drawings on a tablet-PC (left: drawn with a finger; right: drawn with a stylus)

Further studies will deal with possible scenarios for using learner-generated drawing in the classroom. On the one hand, we will focus on the support of collaborative learning by drawing which for example can be co-authoring a drawing of the learning content. On the other hand, learning and automating learner-generated drawing are studied in more detail. Evidence is to be collected of how learner-generated drawing can be learned, automated and used in the classroom.


Dr. Alexander Eitel, University of Freiburg, Department of Psychology