More from Oxford…

Student drawing to explain which of two compounds has the higher boiling point.

Student drawing to explain which of two compounds has the higher boiling point.

“That which we know, we have first seen.” (Goethe, 1798)

…That was the quote on Felice Frankel‘s opening slide during her visualization session.  Per usual, Felice did a fabulous job – explaining her pictures but she also lead us to a thoughtfully implied take-home lesson with the visual quality of her projected slides. Each of Felice’s slides is perfectly crafted for maximum simplicity and elegance – her PPT decks should be a study requirement for anyone who has ever tried to cram 10 bulleted phrases onto one slide!

Felice reminded us that it’s the process of making a visual representation that clarifies your thinking.  She showed us examples from one of her projects, Picturing to Learn, an online database of thousands of drawings made by college undergraduates who are given the challenge to “create a freehand drawing to explain to a high school senior…” a scientific phenomenon.  Through their drawings, and the evaluation/review process, students clarify their thinking and, interestingly, reveal their misconceptions.  By having students draw a picture of their understanding, their teachers can zero in on sticking points that might not be revealed in verbal or other descriptions.

Felice also showed images from her forthcoming book, No Small Matter:  Science on the Nanoscale – another visual collaboration with chemist, George Whitesides, which will be published in November, 2009.  Lovely.

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