Strong observational skills are important to students and professionals of both the arts and the sciences. In order to help science students improve their observational skills and show them the interconnectedness of the arts and the sciences, we designed a drawing class for students who were concurrently enrolled in the first semester of a two semester General Biology sequence. Drawing assignments required students to observe and draw specimens that would subsequently be studied in the biology course thus causing students to examine them closely and potentially enabling them to have a deeper appreciation for the similarities and differences between organisms. Surprisingly, students who were enrolled in the drawing course performed significantly worse on biology assignments than students who were not enrolled in the drawing class. We believe that relatively weak students who expected to have difficulty in biology chose to enroll in the drawing course hoping that it would serve as a tutorial for the biology class. Students in the drawing course clearly improved their drawing skills as evidenced by student comments and pre- and post-instructional drawings. Importantly, student comments indicate that the drawing class helped them make better observations in the biology course.
Alkaslassy, E. and O'Day, T. (2002). "Linking Art and Science with a Drawing Class." Bioscene 28(2): 7-14. Available: http://acube.org/bioscene/.