#becomingeducational W9 Blog: Research… and Draw to Learn

So this week we started the discussion that starts us thinking about our individual RESEARCH PROJECTS: what is ontology? What is epistemology? Why are these concepts important to us as educationalists?
Now every #becomingeducational student should be able to answer those questions by swiftly returning not just to the notes they made in the lecture – but also to the drawings that they made of ontology and epistemology… (the link to the Prezi will go up next week).

Reflection Point:

If you now analyse your own pictures of ontology and of epistemology – what do they tell you about your own understanding/beliefs about what constitutes ‘knowledge’?
What did your picture of epistemology contain? Books – libraries – research practices – conversation?
Did you draw an historical perspective – showing how ‘evidence’ for our knowledge-claims has changed over time?
For example we discussed that whilst it is normal for us to conduct empirical research (to discover information by conducting primary research – as opposed to only reading about a topic – which is known as secondary research), this was not undertaken in the Middle Ages. Such acts of the body would be seen as base – true revelations could only come from the spirit – as revelations from god (think forty days and forty nights of fasting in isolation to have the ‘truth’ revealed to you). Even where people no longer expected that truth would be god-given – there was distrust of what we might discover through primary research. For example, we mentioned Descartes who worried that what could be revealed to us through our senses could lie (for how can we tell when we are awake and when we are dreaming?) – and thus it is only what we discover by rational thought that we can trust: I think therefore I am…
Overall – what does an analysis of our drawings tell us about what and how we ‘know’?
AND – asking these questions about the drawings – leads us in to a discussion of the second part of our session – where we explored Drawing to learn – communicate – research.

Draw to Learn
“Drawings can both evoke and record insight into a situation, and different visualization techniques such as visual brainstorming, imagery manipulation and creative dreaming have been developed … because our intuitive consciousness communicates more easily in impressions and symbols than in words.” (Garfield, 1976; McKim, 1980; Shone, 1984; Parker, 1990).
Pictures can help us think: http://systems.open.ac.uk/materials/t552/pages/rich/richAppendix.html
Pictures can help us observe more clearly – and good observation can lead to good analysis – hence your W5 analysis of the different learning spaces around the University: first you had to SEE CLEARLY – then you had to ANALYSE what you had seen in order to draw meaningful inferences about the spaces and the learning that was happening in them.
We considered drawing as reflective practice – and the art students who drew their learning logs on their overalls – and then used the overalls as an exhibition on their Art Project. See also:
McIntosh, P (2010) Action Research and Reflective Practice: Creative and visual methods to facilitate reflection and learning London; Routledge
McIntosh, P Postgraduate nursing students – drawing-only reflective log: http://qmul.academia.edu/paulmcintosh/Papers/731108/Creativity_and_reflection_An_approach_to_reflexivity_in_practice
Hopefully it is clear from all these examples that drawing is a useful process for thinking and reflecting – and also for use as a RESEARCH METHOD which:
“ … initially stimulates non-verbal activity and then via a probing of what images mean to research participants and why those images were chosen, it goes on to stimulate verbal responses that would otherwise not have been accessible to verbalisation” (Boddy, 2007). Moreover it is argued that:
“Using visual stimuli calls for right-brain activation and bypasses more rational evaluation procedures, thus allowing the researcher to get at the more sub-conscious aspects of respondent’s minds” (Boddy, 2007). This means that we prevent our participants from giving us ‘performative answers’ (the ones they think we want – or the ones that they think they should give) – and allows us to get at something deeper…
Other visual methods to use in your own research projects might be:
Bubble drawing … research participants are asked to complete the verbal and thought response of a drawn person in a given visual and/or verbal reply situation…
Collage in focus group discussions – participants given a selection of magazines, newspapers or other pictorial materials to select a range of images which represent the [issue] being researched.
Image mediated dialogue: choose a picture…
Brainstorms & Pattern notes of the issue being investigated…Viz. Kandiko Howson (2012) http://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/learningteaching/kli/research/student-experience/student-expectations-perceptions-HE.aspx
And last year #becomingeducational students used all but the first of these in their research – which made the whole process more enjoyable and interesting for them – and for us!
Note: Whatever METHOD you do use for your Research Project – you will have to JUSTIFY it – by reference to the ‘literature’ (Boddy, 2007; Garfield, 1976; McKim, 1980; Shone, 1984; Parker, 1990) there will be more on this in our lectures – but for now – do check out the McIntosh references above to see how he justified what he did.
Useful Resources for Developing Visual Practices
AccessArt http://www.accessart.org.uk/
Excellent drawing workshop:

Current stuff: http://www.accessart.org.uk/?p=9061
Creativity, learning & doodling: http://www.ted.com/talks/sunni_brown.html
Best thing ever: http://www.drawastickman.com
The sketchbook revolution: notemaking & drawing:
Drawtivity – site for e-learning, drawing & feedback: http://www.drawtivity.org
Visual Directions: use of sketchbooks for developing ideas & reflective learning & essay writing:
Explore links and information available from Pauline Ridley’s Drawing to Learn site: http://www.brighton.ac.uk/visuallearning/drawing/
… and ideas on visual learning strategies :
Observational skills for geoscience fieldwork : http://www.kingston.ac.uk/esg/fieldwork_tutorial/
Techniques for drawing botanical subjects under the microscope
Looking vs. Seeing: 15’Tutorial: Getting the most out of Microscope Viewing
Picturing to Learn This is part of the Harvard Envisioning Science Program. It enables undergraduate students to clarify their own understanding of scientific concepts and processes by making freehand drawings to explain these concepts to non-experts. These drawings are also used as assessment tools.
Our AniMet challenge http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/animation/index.html


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