Using Drawings to Assess Student Perceptions of Schoolyard Habitats: A Case Study of Reform-Based Research

Linda L. Cronin Jones


This case study describes the development and field-testing of a research-based
scoring rubric for analyzing elementary students’ schoolyard habitat drawings. To
justify schoolyard learning experiences in U.S. schools, teachers, program
evaluators, and others need valid, reliable, and objective assessment tools for
determining if, and how, these learning experiences influence students’
perceptions and understandings of ecological concepts. Three different raters
used the 7-item rubric to evaluate 77 drawings. A high degree of inter-rater
score reliability was found and no significant differences were found between
scores of different raters. To determine if the rubric could detect measurable
differences in drawings made by students of different genders, academic ability
levels, and ethnicities, scores were compared and analyzed by subgroup. Results
indicate that it is possible to develop a quantitative, easy-to-use tool for
analyzing drawings and identifying differences in students’ perceptions of their
schoolyard habitats.

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