Draw and write is a research method that was originally developed for use with children for whom it was not appropriate to use questionnaires, whether because of their age, reading ability or relevance to the topic. Since its development it has been used with young people up to the age of 19 and in some studies with adults.
Draw and write was pioneered by Noreen Wetton of Southampton University and was primarily used for curriculum development in health and safety. It can also be used for needs assessment: to find out how a participant understands a topic, and their attitudes to issues, such as risk. When used as part of a pre and post design it can be a valuable tool to evaluate changes in knowledge, understanding and attitudes.
It is an inclusive approach since children can respond with their own ideas and understanding, and in their own words - even if those words are recorded by an adult scribe.
In draw and write children are asked to draw a picture of a given situation, and alongside the picture write down some of their own words to describe what is happening – or talk about the picture to an adult who records their words.
Data collected using draw and write (or for younger children, draw and talk) can be qualitative or quantitative. It has advantages over questionnaires because it is based on open ended questions, so there is less possibility that a participant may misinterpret adult meanings. Data can be collected quickly from large groups of children under rigorous conditions, or used in a more relaxed format with a small group or class.
The analysis relies on the written statements which may be written by the child or dictated to an adult who can scribe for the child. Written statements can be examined for themes (overarching issues) or content (specific detail). There are many published examples of draw and write including several which can be used in road safety. For further information, please visit the safety education section of the RoSPA website or see:
Wetton N.M. and McWhirter J.M. (1998) 'Image based research and curriculum development in health education' in: Image based research - a source book for qualitative researchers Ed: Prosser, J. Falmer Press.