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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 dealt 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.

The project examined which features are responsible for the effectiveness of drawing and how the drawing strategy can be supported by the use of digital underpinning measures. The results of the empirical studies show that the existence of a visual-spatial representation is relevant for its effectiveness. It did not matter whether this was generated (drawing) or given (multimedia). In a further study, it was shown that there are positive effects of drawing compared to a pure reading condition, regardless of the degree of support provided during the creation of the drawings.

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

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


Schmidgall, S. P., Eitel, A., & Scheiter, K. (2019). Why do learners who draw perform well? Investigating the role of visualization, generation and externalization in learner-generated drawing. Learning and Instruction, 60, 138-153.