Drawing to Enhance Monitoring Process

Jacqueline Wong

Learners are often poor in monitoring how well they have learned because their personal experiences and beliefs influence their monitoring process. Therefore, they tend to overestimate when they find a task easy or when they are able to quickly recall the information right after learning. Such overestimation of one’s own learning can reduce one’s invested effort to learn and poor restudy decisions. In order to support students in their learning pursuit, it is important to enhance the monitoring process by increasing monitoring accuracy. Schleinschok, Eitel, and Scheiter (2017) examined whether a generative task (i.e., drawing) can increase monitoring accuracy and whether drawing as a monitoring task have an effect on cognitive load and self-regulated learning.

In the first experiment, undergraduates in the drawing group were instructed to autonomously represent the content of the text in a drawing after reading each of the five paragraphs on formation of polar lights. Undergraduates in the control group were only instructed to read. Both groups were asked to give a judgement of learning (JOL) by rating how confident they were in answering questions related to the topic in a follow-up test after each paragraph as well as after the whole text. Cognitive load was measured by two questions on task and learning difficulties. Before taking the test to measure learning performance, all undergraduate were asked to select the paragraphs that they would like to restudy. Results of the experiment showed that although both groups were accurate in their monitoring, the drawing group’s JOL was more predictive of their actual performance than the control group’s JOL. The effect of choosing a paragraph with lower JOL for restudy was also higher in the drawing group than in the control group. The drawing group did not report higher cognitive load due to the drawing task.

The procedure of the second experiment was similar to the first experiment. However, other than just selecting paragraphs to restudy without the actual restudy like in the first experiment, undergraduates in the second experiment were allowed to restudy the text for as long as they want to. Results of the second experiment showed that all undergraduates spent more time studying paragraphs with lower JOL. However, the drawing and control groups did not differ in their learning performances.

The authors concluded that restudy decisions are influenced by how confident students are about what they are learning. In addition, the act drawing potentially enhances the monitoring process given that the undergraduates who used drawing as a monitoring task in Experiment 1 were more accurate in their calibration. Results of the study suggest that generative tasks potentially enhance one’s monitoring process. Students have to comprehend the learning content before they can illustrate it. Therefore, self-monitoring is manifested in the act of drawing. However, more studies are needed to examine the effect of drawing task on other subject areas as well as comparing other generative tasks to the drawing task. Drawing task may not be suitable across subject areas as not all content can be easily illustrated. Furthermore, not all students are keen to draw, so students’ interest in using drawing as a form of monitoring may affect its effectiveness. Nonetheless, the study adds to the field by investigating generative tasks to enhance the less-than-perfect process of self-monitoring of learning.

Schleinschok, K., Eitel, A., & Scheiter, K. (2017). Do drawing tasks improve monitoring and control during learning from text?. Learning and Instruction. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2017.02.002

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