Joshua Vogelstein points us to an article by Shaaron Ainsworth, Vaughan Prain, and Russell Tytler:
Should science learners be challenged to draw more? Certainly making visualizations is integral to scientific thinking. Scientists do not use words only but rely on diagrams, graphs, videos, photographs, and other images to make discoveries, explain findings, and excite public interest. . . . However, in the science classroom, learners mainly focus on interpreting others’ visualizations; when drawing does occur, it is rare that learners are systematically encouraged to create their own visual forms to develop and show understanding (6). Drawing includes constructing a line graph from a table of values, sketching cells observed through a microscope, or inventing a way to show a scientific phenomenon (e.g., evaporation). Although interpretation of visualizations and other information is clearly critical to learning, becoming proficient in science also requires learners to develop many representational skills. We suggest five reasons why student drawing should be explicitly recognized alongside writing, reading, and talking as a key element in science education. . . .
I like this, for several reasons:
1. I make a lot of sketches in my work. When I teach, I’m always sketching things on the blackboard. One of my principles of teaching is: Anything you want students to understand, they should do. If the derivation’s in the book or on the board, it should also be in the students’ homeworks and in-class activities. So, yeah, I think students should get practice in drawing (and feedback on their attempts).
2. Drawing is a good skill in itself. Just as writing and programming are useful in many different aspects of life, so is drawing. So it’s good to give students instruction in drawing whenever it fits in to the curriculum. Same with writing, same with programming.
3. Some people are good at algebra, others are good at drawing. It’s good to structure a course so that people with drawing talent have an entry into the field. Similar to how it’s good to give some mathematical subtlety in any course so that the more mathematical students can relate the course to that ability and interest of theirs.