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Researching the Use of Comic Strips in Edutainment

March 17, 2013

My comic strip, Why Evaluate?, attempted to illustrate the importance of information literacy to college students. Students have many fears when it comes to education (Sengul & Dereli, 2010). Anecdotally, students fear the overwhelming nature of the library and often do not understand how information literacy can benefit them. By pointing out that information literacy benefits not only their academic life, but their personal life as well, I hope that this increases students’ motivation to learn effective research strategies. The use of humor in the comic strip fits the expected model, and provides valuable information in a non-threatening manner. In this comic strip, the librarian attempts to explain the purpose of information literacy instruction. The student however, because of time, commitments or perhaps fear, declines the assistance. After the student realizes that her lack of research and evaluation skills negatively affected her personal life through an online dating mishap, she requests the assistance. This comic strip could be used in a research project that measured student’s receptivity to information literacy instruction. One barrier to providing information literacy instruction in the college classroom is that students tell faculty that they don’t “need it”. This research project could therefore measure whether receptivity increases and library anxiety decreases (Sengul & Dereli, 2010) with this use of this humorous comic strip.

Jennifer Marrot’s comic strip, Homophone Humor, effectively defined and used homophones. Homophones can be very difficult for students to understand and use correctly, particularly learners whose primary language is not English. This comic strip can help learners visualize the differences in the word definitions of words that sound alike. For example, Good Buy illustrated a moped with dollar signs signifying that the purchase of the mopel was a good price. The homophone illustration Good Bye showed the same individual leaving on the same moped, signifying that the person was leaving the scene. When working with students on the concepts of homophones, a great assignment would be to require students to create their own comic strip of homophones. They would show mastery of identifying a homophone, understanding and correct identification of the differing meanings, and creativity to illustrate the homophone pairs. Ms Marrot could design a similar research project to Khoii & Forouzesh (2010) to determine whether comic strips help students improve their understanding of homophones compared with traditional instructional methods.  This would be very interesting research to conduct, especially with ESL students. The research could focus on using comic strips in instruction, or the effect of students creating their own comic strips.

Brenda Volk’s comic, Tales from the Self-Plagiarism Files, was a clever comic about plagiarism. In my experience, students do not understand plagiarism. They often commit plagiarism because they do not understand the publication or citation process. A subset of students however, understand plagiarism but do it anyway because they think it provides an easy grade without extra work. This comic strip addresses that student subset by pointing out the logical fallacy of being graded twice for the same work when compared to being paid twice for the same work at a local burger joint. I think this comic strip could be used effectively with students in an information literacy class that addresses plagiarism issues. Additionally, students could then be required to create an original comic strip based on what they have just learned about plagiarism. Research could be conducted to determine if comic strips are effective in preventing or reducing incidents of plagiarism. The research could take many forms. One possible method would be to pretest students about plagiarism. The students would then be randomly divided into two groups. The first group would go through a traditional online plagiarism tutorial. The second group would view this and other comic strips created to teach about the various aspects of plagiarism. The students would then retake the test to determine if scores significantly improve and demonstrate improved understanding about plagiarism.

Jenni Borg’s comic strip, Baseball Pun, illustrates with humor the literary concept of a pun. Like Jennifer Marrot’s comic strip, Ms Borg shows how a comic strip can effectively educate students about an language arts concept. The pun comic plays on the pun of the phrase “And then it hit me” illustrating the two meanings of this phrase: an actual baseball hitting the individual and understanding an idea. I think it was a good idea to base this comic on baseball as it will be accessible to many students through the language of youth sports. Kids love sports, and they love silly jokes and puns so I think this will be effective for a younger age group. Research can be done to demonstrate understanding of the literary device of the pun. Students can be tested about puns after reading several pun comic strips. Or they could demonstrate mastery of this concept in the constructivst classroom by creating their own comic strips.

Borg, J. (2013). Baseball pun. Retrieved from

Khoii, R., & Forouzesh, Z. (2010). Using comic strips with reading texts: are we making a mistake. Literacy Information and Computer Educational Journal, 1(3), 168–177.

Marrot, J. (2013). Homophone humor. Retrieved from

Sengul, S., & Dereli, M. (2010). Does instruction of “Integers” subject with cartoons effect students’ mathematics anxiety? Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2, 2176–2180.

Transue, B. (2013). Why evaluate? Retrieved from

Volk, B. (2013). Tales from the self-plagiarism files. Retrieved from

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