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Verena Paepcke-Hjeltness

Author: Heather Sauer | Image: Heather Sauer

Verena Paepcke-Hjeltness, an assistant professor of industrial design at Iowa State University, is on a team that received a $14,148 Miller Faculty Fellowship for the 2018-19 academic year for their project “Sketchnoting a Pedagogical Tool in Ecology.” Her collaborators are Ann Gansemer-Topf, an assistant professor of education, and Ann Russell, an adjunct associate professor of natural resource ecology and management.

Sketchnoting is a design-visualization methodology that provides a framework for students to communicate visually by allowing them to break down complex forms and concepts into combinations of dots, lines, squares, triangles and circles. The simplicity of these shapes promotes this pedagogical tool’s use for skilled and non-skilled drawers alike.

This methodology is expected to foster higher-level thinking in STEM fields because it promotes visual synthesis that enhances students’ capacities to problem-solve. The objectives of the cross-disciplinary Miller Fellowship study are to adapt and evaluate the effect on student learning and attitudes of this tool in a STEM field. This will be the first rigorous evaluation of this low-cost tool in a required undergraduate course for biology majors.