My interest in the pedagogical benefits of observation drawing was initially inspired when I had been thinking about debate that continues to appear in educational literature about the importance of anatomy dissection in medical education (citations). It occurred to me that anatomy dissection, being a process that requires elevated attention and delicate hand dexterity to expose the fine details of delicate anatomical structures, was a process that required learners to slow down and invest time in careful observation of the subject. Anatomical dissection requires elevated attention, purposeful action and a slow and methodical process. It is possible to cut improperly and destroy a structure, so dissection requires learners to slow down and observe deeply.
In the education literature that examines alternatives to gross dissection, comparisons are often made to educational programs that use pro-sections, 3D models, multimedia resources (virtual 3D models) or other eLearning resources. It occurred to me that the one thing these alternative curriculum artifacts lacked in comparison to dissection, was that the learner was not necessarily required to invest extended time and attention in the observing the content. Dissection requires time, heightened observation and focused attention, but the alternatives do not require that same level the use of attention or time.
The way in which alternative educational resources are used in education programs can vary, and this is the basis of instructional design. The use of a 3D model or pro-sections can be observed and discussed verbally, be optional supplemental material or the central focus of the educational program. How resources are used is as important (if not more important) than what resources are used.
Observation drawing, similar to dissection, is a process that requires time, heightened observation and focused attention. Observation drawing can be a purposeful learning process that requires learners to invest time and attention on the careful study of physical or digital 3D models and pro-sections. By incorporating observation drawing as a pedagogical method, the learner is required to invest time and attention. Hand eye coordination and dexterity is another skill that is increased with the observation drawing, as it is with dissection.