*THIS POST IS PART OF A CONTINUING SERIES OF RESPONSES TO SCHOLARLY TEXTS FOR LEARNING WITH DIGITAL STORIES, A MASTER LEVEL COURSE I AM ENROLLED IN AT UC DENVER.
Found my scholarly text for this week in the College Research Library News. I was looking for research about using comics for teaching in specific disciplines. I had been searching for comics applied to science instruction, in particular. I had originally not expected much from John Meier’s article Science Graphic Novels for Academic Libraries but I am glad that I decided to give it a try. Meier’s piece has an interesting introduction outlining the current state of university library collections of comics and graphic novels and reveals the better funded institutions have greater collections of comics then under funded institutions.
The heart of Meier’s article, however, is an interview with Jay Hosler. Who is a researcher at Juniata College, and a graphic novelist. I know his work from the amazing piece Clan Apis which is the story of a the two honey bees and their hive. This graphic novel full of facts about bees, life in the hive and photo realistic illustrations and diagrams. But it is science fiction and the story of the relationship between the main characters is heartwarming and full of depth, intrigue and character development. I love this graphic novel and have used it in my instruction with fifth graders.
Hosler has lots of great things about comics and using them for teaching science. There were three quotations that stood out to me as being the most influential ideas Hosler shares.
On the power of images in a comic Hosler said: “You get to see the other person’s thoughts, and I think that is the magic of a graphic novel.” This concept of seeing the thoughts of the artist in a comic lets the creator of the comic show the narrative to the reader and then use text to verify the meaning of images.
On the balance between text and images in a comic: “A balance must be struck between the two with word and pictures doing different things.” By having both text and images in a comic each can be used to accomplish the specific storytelling tasks that each is best suited for.
On why to use comics in science instruction: “I . . . write a comics story and embed a graph . . . it’s not disjointed, it’s there. There is no way you can just move on to the next panel. You can’t skip a panel any more than you can skip a paragraph. Because it’s right there. The characters are walking over, around, and on the graph.” Also incorporating an engaging narrative draws in the learners into the story and if the facts are embedded in that narrative then the students will be actively engaged in their learning.