A new paper that blends science and art (STEM to STEAM) and evaluates a new technique for analyzing drawings has been published in International Journal of Science Education by GRL Director Libarkin and colleagues:
Exploratory factor analysis was used to identify models underlying drawings of the greenhouse effect made by over 200 entering university freshmen. Initial content analysis allowed deconstruction of drawings into salient features, with grouping of these features via factor analysis. A resulting 4-factor solution explains 62% of the data variance, suggesting that 4 archetype models of the greenhouse effect dominate thinking within this population. Factor scores, indicating the extent to which each student’s drawing aligned with representative models, were compared to performance on conceptual understanding and attitudes measures, demographics, and non-cognitive features of drawings. Student drawings were also compared to drawings made by scientists to ascertain the extent to which models reflect more sophisticated and accurate models. Results indicate that student and scientist drawings share some similarities, most notably the presence of some features of the most sophisticated non-scientific model held among the study population. Prior knowledge, prior attitudes, gender, and non-cognitive components are also predictive of an individual student’s model. This work presents a new technique for analyzing drawings, with general implications for the use of drawings in investigating student conceptions.