College students’ life course drawings and their descriptions: How closely do they align?

Amy M. Schuster, Katherina Nikzad-Terhune, Tina M.K. Newsham, M. Aaron Guest, Caylee Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drawing is an effective method to understand attitudes and beliefs on aging, but the subject matter without an explanation can be misinterpreted. We explored college students’ drawings and written descriptions of the life course (N = 567). Participants drew, on average, five life phases. Most drawings included human figures, and most were alone in each life phase. Fifteen percent of the drawings were non-human representations. Some characteristics (e.g. hair changes [58%]) and contexts (e.g. birth [91%]) were present in both the drawings and descriptions. Others were only present in the drawings (e.g. alone throughout the life course [79%]) or mainly described (e.g. school/graduation [92%]). Findings highlight participants thought some associations with aging needed explanation while others warranted no explanation, thus intrinsic to aging. Our study reveals the importance of examining both drawn and written content together when using drawing as a method in aging research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEducational Gerontology
StateAccepted/In press - 2024
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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