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The Understated Value Of Freehand Sketching In Technology Education

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Graphics and Visualization

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1259.1 - 14.1259.17



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Paper Authors


Diarmaid Lane University of Limerick

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Diarmaid Lane is a teaching assistant and PhD student in the Department of Manufacturing and Operations Engineering at University of Limerick. He is currently responsible for teaching Design and Communication Graphics to trainee teachers of Engineering Education. His special interests include freehand technical sketching and pedagogical approaches in Engineering Graphics Education.

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Niall Seery University of Limerick Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Niall Seery is a lecturer in the Department of Manufacturing and Operations Engineering at University of Limerick. He currently directs the graduate diploma course in Engineering Education. His core competences and interests include Design and Communication Graphics, Engineering and Technical Drawing pedagogics as well as cognitive styles and learning strategies in Engineering Education.

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Seamus Gordon University of Limerick

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Dr. Seamus Gordon is a lecturer in the Department of Manufacturing and Operations Engineering at University of Limerick. He is currently course leader of the undergraduate teacher training degree programme in Engineering Education. His special interests include high speed machining of composite materials and he is also an expert in CAD/CAM systems.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

The understated value of freehand sketching in technology education


As education plays such a vital role in economic competitiveness, it is no surprise that the focus for many governments is to invest in educational initiatives. Innovation in pedagogy, refined curriculum and much research into the science of teaching and learning is hoped to promote a knowledge economy. In recent years the Irish education systems have been particularly proactive in the area of technology education. Four new subjects were drafted at Senior Cycle level, all with a common philosophy grounded in design and technology. This clear shift in focus from the traditional craft based subjects to a more creative design-based suite of subjects has brought with it an unprecedented need for continuous professional development.

This paper focuses on the shift in skill set from teaching in a predefined drawing mode to that of a conceptual mode that fosters creativity. As technical sketching is a fundamental building block of all design-based activities, it formed the core of this study. Focusing on the learning process under the descriptors of presage, process and product, enabled a linear exploration of an otherwise complex dynamic learning experience.

Although the perception of innate ability restricts the level of application of many teachers in terms of sketching, it proved a valuable attribute as a comparative criterion when selecting contributors. The study included participants that subjectively claimed an average standard of sketching capabilities and a polar group with a prerequisite mindset governed by the phrase “I cannot sketch”. All participants completed a purpose designed five-week course of study. The course included much psychomotor skill development, however the significant value of the course content centred on the cognitive development that progressed from knowledge acquisition to synthesis.

The paper concludes by highlighting the value of ‘Process’ based education over the traditional ‘Product’ approach and presents empirical evidence that illustrate enhanced cognitive capabilities of the participants. The use of pre and post intervention data and qualitative commentary validates the suggestion that there is a greater cognitive value to sketching than the completed composition.


The purpose of this study was to investigate if sketching is more than a physical activity which some people excel at and enjoy, while others find difficult and frustrating. It forms part of initial research that is being carried out as part of a greater study at the University of Limerick, which aims to determine how freehand drawing can be taught and applied in technology subjects not only as a means of communication but as a greater cognitive tool.

Technological subjects at pre-university level in Ireland have a broad aim directed towards developing fundamental design skills and aptitudes in pupils. Problem

Lane, D., & Seery, N., & Gordon, S. (2009, June), The Understated Value Of Freehand Sketching In Technology Education Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5855

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