Elementary art & science: observational drawing in lesson study

Sharon Dotger, Deborah Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to report on elementary students’ observational drawings, which were produced from two science lesson study cycles. Design/methodology/approach – The authors collaboratively studied student work from two science research lessons. The authors evaluated 50 students’ science notebook entries, paying specific attention to their observational sketches. The authors wanted to understand how fourth grade students approach observational drawing in science class to better inform science and art pedagogy. Findings – Students represented their observations in a variety of ways. The structure of the lessons might have influenced students’ drawings, as did students’ orientation when constructing their representations. Research limitations/implications – This research is limited in that it only analyzes observational drawing from two research lessons. Practical implications – Through cross-disciplinary collaboration between a science educator and an art teacher, the authors developed shared ideas that were applicable in both spaces. In the near term, the authors have each changed the instructional practices to include more observational drawing. Social implications – This paper could impact public attitudes about the inclusion of science and art in the elementary curriculum. The authors would expect that through articulating the purpose of observational drawing for the artist and the scientist, the public would be more supportive of teaching these skills in school. Originality/value – This paper documents teacher learning across two content areas which students have limited access to in the USA during elementary school. It explains how science and art share objectives and can thus advocate for each other’s inclusion in the school day.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-38
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 5 2015


  • Art education
  • Elementary education
  • Lesson study
  • Observational drawing
  • Science education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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