Mary Davies

  • Cognitive styles and drawing practice

    Mary Davies, Swansea Institute
    Qona Rankin, Royal College of Art
    Howard Riley, University of Wales Swansea

    Research paper

    Theme: learning, teaching and assessment methods

    It has been recognised for some time that the art schools attract a high percentage of dyslexic (25% at the RCA) and dyspraxic students, and this is reflected in the raised awareness amongst studio tutors and study support tutors of the relationship between cognitive styles and students’ learning experiences.

    This paper presents data in the form of drawings and filmed interviews gathered at the Swansea School of Art and the Royal College of Art. It is argued that indicators of dyslexia are present in the drawings of those students who were identified by the recognised assessment techniques as showing tendencies towards a dyslexic cognitive style. Those indicators are explained and codified within a taxonomy of cognitive processes.

    The rational for the research reframes the dyslexic profile as one whose features, together, constitute a cognitive style. The whole concept of ‘assessment’ is construed as being implicated within the identification of students’ learning strengths, which then informs both students’ awareness of their learning strategies, and the tutors’ approach to designing the content and delivery of a teaching programme in drawing.


    • Mortimer, T 2003 Dyslexia and Learning Style. A Practitioner’s Handbook. London: Whurr
    • Riding, R and Raynor, S 2000 Cognitive Styles and Learning Strategies. London: David Fulton
    • Robertson, J 2000 Dyslexia and Reading: A Neuropsychological Approach. London: Whurr