Academic journal article Science Educator

Exploring the Attitudes of Students Using an Edutainment Graphic Novel as a Supplement to Learning in the Classroom

Academic journal article Science Educator

Exploring the Attitudes of Students Using an Edutainment Graphic Novel as a Supplement to Learning in the Classroom

Article excerpt

Abstract

Educators have successfully used various forms of entertainment media to inform the public about a wide range of subjects. Some of these methods have been implemented as learning tools for use in an academic setting. This study explores the attitudes of a student population using print education-entertainment as a supplement to classroom learning. In this participatory study, biology students reviewed a custom cell biology graphic novel (comic book) before studying the subject in an enrolled course, and provided feedback on how they felt about using it as a complementary learning aid in a Q-Methodology survey.

The cell biology graphic novel was designed and written by the primary investigator using similar structure and informational content found in multiple high-school and college-level textbooks. Q-sample statements were then developed by the primary investigator. These statements were sorted (Q-sort) by participants according to which statements they agreed or disagreed with most. The results of this Q-Method study have outlined five different attitude profiles within the tested population, each indicating which aspects of this educationentertainment were most important to the students while learning basic cell biology.

Introduction

Overview and purpose.

The concept of educational entertainment is certainly not new. In fact, this constructive medium can be traced back to early Greece, where Aristotle discussed the capability of the dramatic arts to teach moral lessons (Piotrow, 1994). Since then, 'edutainment' techniques have been developed and employed to effectively inform families, communities and patients through various mediums of entertainment. Print works, electronic interactive applications (Sward, Richardson, Kendrick, & Maloney, 2008), television programming, music, and even performance art, such as improvisational theater (Newcomb & Riddlesperger, 2007), have been utilized to present health messages stealthily, as if merely to entertain. In fact, Mexican producer Miguel Sabido has even developed a novel soap opera delving into sexual health, AIDS prevention, and family planning (Piotrow, 1994). These progressive methods of 'edutaining' have been proven as pervasive, attractive, emotion-invoking, persuasive [and in some cases] profitable approaches to informing the public (Piotrow, 1994).

It seems we have learned one thing over the years, and that is entertainment media has the power to attract people to activities that result in both rewarding and memorable experiences. These engaging events are revisited at leisure to provide equally gratifying results for individuals and larger groups. To its detriment, however, such media is often criticized by scholars, parents and the public, who regard these "addictions" as distractions from traditionally constructive or educational activities. For example, an article from LiveScience.com suggests that video games hinder learning for young boys (Rettner, 2010). The key to shifting individuals away from the addiction and to the education is to combine the entertainment with learning.

In recent years, the conception of 'edutainment,' or media designed specifically to both entertain and educate, has broadened the scope of traditional education. This format, though still debatable as a substitute to traditional teaching methods, may prove effective as supplemental material or informal introductions to classroom topics; for example, a student who watches a prime time medical drama on the risks of sun exposure may recall the characters, scenarios , and perhaps even technical jargon in a classroom discussion on melanoma weeks later. In effect, passive exposure to information-enriched entertainment may prove beneficial as a method of making connections, recalling information, enhancing memory, and stimulating interest in academic subjects.

The effects of supplemental/casual edutainment are yet to be determined, but qualitative studies can pinpoint student engagement in the subject matter; thus, drawing conclusions about the benefits on learning. …

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