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Supporting content and language learning through collaborative drawing (exploratory research)… (Presenters: Dr Gabriela Meier & Dr Emese Hall)

Language and Education Network Seminar

Aim 1) Outline key theories and research; Aim 2) Invite participation in a collaborative research project.

Event details

In this seminar, we will outline some key theories and research covering two main areas: (collaborative) drawing as a learning tool; and bilingual children’s learning.

Drawing is a form of communication.  Collaborative drawing is based on the idea of communication and learning understood multimodally and advanced through social interaction where, in drawing together, understanding is negotiated verbally and non-verbally, enhancing shared meaning-making.  Bilingual children often struggle to understand curricular content and simultaneously develop their second language. However, bilingual children also often show cognitive and creative advantages in non-verbal tasks compared to monolinguals.  Hence, we suggest that collaborative drawing, as a form of intellectual play, might usefully enhance bilingual learners’ confidence and competence in their second language.

We will share our existing work in these areas and invite expressions of interest in our latest research, conceived as being a participatory pilot project… 

In our proposed project we will focus on the benefits, as well as the challenges, of collaborative drawing as a tool for learning between bilingual primary-aged children and adults.   

We would like to open our research out to colleagues within GSE; in particular, current international research students.  Importantly, we are also looking to involve children who are learning English as an Additional Language, e.g., children of the aforementioned students. 

There are perceived advantages for children drawing with adults; not least as the adult can act as a more knowledgeable other and scaffold learning.  Equally, adults can gain confidence in drawing by responding to children’s ideas as creative stimuli.  We thus define collaborative drawing as an inclusive and democratic activity.

The research project will involve the co-design and trial of a range of collaborative drawing activities, centred on mutually agreed ‘content’.  We will seek to investigate effective approaches from both child and adult perspectives.  Further to the aforementioned advantages, our intention is that adult participants gain research experience and that children enjoy taking part.

In terms of seminar structure, we will begin by summarising our general research interests and then briefly define what is meant by both ‘content and language learning’ and ‘collaborative drawing’.  Next, we will share the rationale and aims of a recent research proposal and will go on to look at each main area in detail.  We will then outline our latest research ideas (the pilot project described above) and explain how colleagues can participate.  We will finish with questions.

For questions in advance, please contact: or



South Cloisters 2.13