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Ehrlén, K. (2009). Drawings as representations of children’s conceptions. International Journal of Science Education, 31(1), 41–57.

Children’s drawings are often used by researchers as an indication of their conceptual understanding. But, to what extent is this approach valid? Do such drawings offer real insight, or are they simply clichéd representations produced by the children? In this study of children’s conception of ‘Earth,’ the researcher concludes that drawings have value only if they are used in conjunction with the children’s own narrative explanation of their drawing.


Tatalovic, M. (2009). Science comics as tools for science education and communication: A brief, exploratory study. Journal of Science Communication, 8(4), 1-17.

This paper argues that comic books, comic strips, and other sequential art covering scientific concepts and stories about scientists can be used to good effect for science learning, especially for grounding scientific fact in social contexts. The paper includes a rich list of existing comics that practitioners can use in classes and programs for ISE audiences.


Lee, H.-S., Linn, M. C., Varma, K., & Liu, O. L. (2010). How do technology-enhanced inquiry science units impact classroom learning? Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(1), 71-90.

Scientists regularly use interactive visualizations and models of abstract phenomena in their work. There is a growing body of evidence showing students could also benefit from interactive visualizations. This study compared the impact of inquiry-based science instruction incorporating interactive visualizations with that of traditional instruction on students’ knowledge integration across science courses.


Jaakkola, T., Nurmi, S., & Veermans, K. (2011). A comparison of students’ conceptual understanding of electric circuits in simulation only and simulation-laboratory contexts. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(1), 71–93.

This article makes a case for providing multiple types of hands-on resources to support learner inquiry. More specifically, a computer simulation of an electric circuit complemented work with a real circuit to support learners’ conceptual development. When learners had the opportunity to use both simulated and real circuits, less structured guidance seemed to benefit the inquiry process.


Brooks, M. (2009). Drawing, visualisation and young children's exploration of "big ideas." International Journal of Science Education, 31(3), 319–141.

Brooks uses Vygotskian theory to explain how drawing helps children to construct meaning and share their ideas with others. She argues that drawings help to bridge the gap between observation-bound thinking and more abstract, symbolic (i.e., scientific) thinking. The article offers ISE practitioners a clear introduction to Vygotskian theory and highlights the importance of drawing and visualisation when conducting inquiries and making sense of new concepts.


van der Veen, J. (2012). Draw your physics homework? Art as a path to understanding in physics teaching. American Educational Research Journal, 49(2), 356–407.

This paper describes the potential benefits of incorporating art into physics education. Drawing and sculpture provide a way of understanding abstract concepts. The process may also allow educators to “humanize” physics and thus make it more accessible to historically marginalized groups.


Ramadas, J. (2009). Visual and spatial modes in science learning. International Journal of Science Education, 31(3), 301–318.

Visual and spatial thinking is an integral part of doing and learning science: explanations of complex (often nonvisible) phenomena involve visual and symbolic modes as well as text. To bring about meaningful learning, we need to find out how best to combine semantic content with visual representations.