Drawn to Science Education: Studying Science Teaching and Learning through DrawingsImage for Science Methods Course Page

Science Methods Course Drawing Activity

Teacher candidates in a science methods course can learn about the potential benefits of using drawing of science teaching and learning in their future science classrooms. They also can learn about recommended 21st century science learning proficiencies by examining their drawings for such proficiencies. The lesson plan below is designed to help make your teacher candidates in your science methods course achieve these learning outcomes.

We've included two drawing prompts. The lesson fits well into a first class meeting of an academic term with a repeat experience in the last class. If used only once, it is recommended to use the second class session lesson (with adaptations).

Time Needed: 20 minutes (first class session); 45 minutes (second class session)

Materials: paper, markers/colored pencils/crayons


National Science Education Standards: Content Standard G: History and Nature of Science: Science as a Human Endeavor (National Research Council, 1996)

National Research Council (2007). Taking Science to School. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

National Research Council (2009). Learning Science in Informal Environments. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.

First Class Session

1. Explain to your teacher candidates that they are going to take part in a drawing activity about science teaching and learning as a way for them to learn more about their personal beliefs, about contemporary recommendations for science learning, and to model how to use drawings to elicit their future science students' beliefs concerning the teaching and learning of science. For most teacher candidates, drawing is an enjoyable and rewarding activity, and sharing their drawings and comments about their drawings is highly engaging. Self-assessment using the rubric for 21st Century Science Learning Proficiencies can be very illuminating.

2. Ask your teacher candidates to envision how they would like to teach science and how their students would look to others while learning science in that way. Then, share with them the following two drawing prompts one at a time on separate sheets (as teacher candidates finish with one prompt, they should turn in their first drawing and receive the second prompt):

  • "Draw yourself teaching science."
  • "Draw your students learning science."

Encourage your teacher candidates to add as many details as they can in their drawings. For example, what people are doing in the drawing, what tools they are using, and where they are learning science. More details allow for a richer understanding and discussion.

3. Before the teacher candidates turn in a drawing, ask them to write a brief description on the back of their paper of what they intend people to see in their drawing. If they are having trouble, ask them to write about:

  • What is happening in the drawing and why?
  • What is the most important element in your drawing? Why?
  • Where does our idea of scientists/science teaching or learning come from?
  • If there are expressions on faces in the drawing you could ask "Why is the person smiling, frowning, ...?"

Second Class Session

If the drawing lesson is used only at the end of the science methods course, disregard the references to comparing the first lesson's drawings)

1. Repeat steps 1 to 3 above.

2. As you view your teacher candidates' drawing you might reflect upon:
  • How are the drawings different or similar to your ideal conception of teachers teaching science and learners way of learning science?
  • Where do you believe the ideas your teacher candidates include in their drawings originate?
  • Does the activity give you any new ideas about conducting professional development with teacher candidates?
  • You can see how we analyzed drawings by teacher candidates with our rubric.
3. After drawings are done there are several options for discussing the teacher candidates' self-generated images.
  • Return their first lesson drawings and ask them to compare with their second lesson drawings. Have the drawings stayed nearly the same or have they changed? Reason(s) for what they observe in their comparisons? Encourage them to form small groups to share their drawings and their thoughts regarding their interpretations of the first lesson and second lesson drawing comparison.

  • Provide them the rubric for the 21st Century Science Learning Proficiencies. Ask them to select one of the proficiencies amenable to drawing analysis and to use the rubric to self-assess their first drawing with their second drawing. Ask them to propose reason(s) for any changes in score between the drawings on that proficiency. Challenge them to discuss how they believe they personally identify with science teaching and learning and compare/contrast that with how an outside observer might infer their science teaching/learning classroom identity based solely on analysis of their drawings using the drawing rubric.

  • Conduct a "Gallery Walk" where teacher candidates can post their second drawing on the wall .Allow them to opt out if they don't want to share their drawing. (Alternatively, the drawings could be scanned and posted on a secure website, with or without attribution.) Teacher candidates then can walk around to see others' drawings. This can be followed by a whole class discussion about similarities, differences, and what the drawings might be able to tell us about our thinking.

Questions or comments? Send us an email at jmcginni@umd@umd.edu.