Studies in the learning sciences suggest that drawing may prove valuable as a reflective exercise, a learning diagnostic, and a potential cognitive tool. Although studies using art in medical training are existent and interventions allowing for more efficient learning and better retention are desirable, very few strategies explore learner-made drawings as an option. In the present research, a study has been designed to determine whether the generation of drawings at different times during the interpretation of radiographs within an online learning application will improve learning. In this ongoing first phase of research, the verbal utterances of sixteen NYU School of Medicine students were recorded during the experimental task and coded to define themes, granting a qualitative window into how learners use anatomical drawings during the visual search, decoding, and learning processes.

The design of this first phase of research aims to lay the groundwork for future experimentation. Experimental groups were asked to draw pathology they perceived in radiographs, with groups comprising of (a) a "pre-feedback" treatment, creating drawings before receiving feedback on cases, (b) a "post-feedback" treatment, creating drawings after receiving feedback on cases, and (c) a "reflection" treatment, creating drawings both before and after receiving feedback. A fourth control group did not draw during the experimental task. Early explorations of the data reveal fascinating insights on various cognitive strategies used while drawing before and/or after feedback on responses.

The second phase of this ongoing research will employ quantitative assessments of learning curves. In this succeeding investigation, comprising of approximately 120 participants, statistical analyses will be used to identify which treatment, strategy and timing of drawings is most effective at enhancing diagnostic accuracy, performance, and cognition during learning and practice in medical education.

To view a high resolution PDF of this poster, select the "PDF" associated with this title on the JBC Table of Contents.

Vesalius Trust logo
This Vesalius Trust research poster was presented at the 2017
Association of Medical Illustrators' Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas


1. Bobek E, Tversky B. Creating visual explanations improves learning. In: Proceedings of the 36th annual conference of the cognitive science society. Cognitive Science Society; 2014; Austin, TX.

2. Lyon P, Letschka P, Ainsworth T, Haq I. An exploratory study of the potential learning benefits for medical students in collaborative drawing: creativity, refection and 'critical looking'. BMC medical education; 2013: 13(1), 86.


The authors have chosen to license this content under a Creative Commons Attribution, NonCommercial, NoDerivatives License 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2018 Journal of Biocommunication