To what extent can students’ drawings of a physical system, the Energy of the Earth and its atmosphere be interpreted to provide insight into their understanding and mental models of the system?
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This study investigates the extent to which students’ drawings of a physical system, the Energy of the Earth and its atmosphere, can be interpreted to provide insight into their understanding and mental models of the system. The study builds on research by Van Joolingen and Kenbeek (2013) and used the same scoring system and factor analysis as an extra method to get to know possible mental models or mindsets of students. The scoring system was tested on data from Tubingen and all datasets were compared. The information from the drawings was complemented with interviews and videorecordings of a selection of students. These extra methods did not lead to more information, leading to the conclusion that all that is to be gained from drawings is the same as the oral explanation of students. The factor analysis did reveal different factors in all datasets. Implications for further research are discussed.