Project Title

First-year Student Comprehension of Graphic Textbooks

Presenters

Academic department under which the project should be listed

RCHSS - English

Faculty Sponsor Name

Dr. Amy Buddie

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Today’s professors continue to be challenged by the ever-increasing problem of encouraging and motivating students to read textbooks and course material. In recent years, universities across the nation have attempted to address this problem by adopting graphic textbooks, textbooks that rely on graphic visuals over text alone. These textbooks are often filled with humorous comics, engaging visuals, and interactive applications. One such example is University Life: A College Survival Story (Payne, 2011), which is used in first-year lectures, and another example is Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (Bechdel, 2006), which was recently on Duke University’s summer reading list. Although graphic textbooks have a large presence at many universities, there is little quantitative research backing their efficacy. The purpose of this study is to examine if the graphic visuals in a graphic composition textbook, Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing (UR; Pallis et al., 2013), increase student motivation to read the textbook and help them learn the material better. In order to collect data, first-year students in English composition courses will be given either a passage directly from UR with the graphic visuals or a passage directly from UR without the graphic visuals. To determine that students do not learn better from the passage with graphic visuals because they have more time to process the information, a third passage without the graphic visuals but with unrelated comics will also be given to students. Students will be asked comprehension questions about the passage as well as questions about their perceptions of the passage. It is anticipated that the survey results will determine that students are more motivated to read the graphic textbook and learn better from the passage with the graphic visuals

Project Type

Poster

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First-year Student Comprehension of Graphic Textbooks

Today’s professors continue to be challenged by the ever-increasing problem of encouraging and motivating students to read textbooks and course material. In recent years, universities across the nation have attempted to address this problem by adopting graphic textbooks, textbooks that rely on graphic visuals over text alone. These textbooks are often filled with humorous comics, engaging visuals, and interactive applications. One such example is University Life: A College Survival Story (Payne, 2011), which is used in first-year lectures, and another example is Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (Bechdel, 2006), which was recently on Duke University’s summer reading list. Although graphic textbooks have a large presence at many universities, there is little quantitative research backing their efficacy. The purpose of this study is to examine if the graphic visuals in a graphic composition textbook, Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing (UR; Pallis et al., 2013), increase student motivation to read the textbook and help them learn the material better. In order to collect data, first-year students in English composition courses will be given either a passage directly from UR with the graphic visuals or a passage directly from UR without the graphic visuals. To determine that students do not learn better from the passage with graphic visuals because they have more time to process the information, a third passage without the graphic visuals but with unrelated comics will also be given to students. Students will be asked comprehension questions about the passage as well as questions about their perceptions of the passage. It is anticipated that the survey results will determine that students are more motivated to read the graphic textbook and learn better from the passage with the graphic visuals