NORMAN — A recent study from the University of Oklahoma shows that graphic novels may improve memory and be more effective in teaching students than a traditional textbook.
The study, titled “Graphic presentation: An empirical examination of the graphic novel approach to communicate business concepts,” featured an experiment with 140 undergraduate business seniors and will soon be published in Business Communication Quarterly.
Jeremy Short was the lead author of the study. He has co-authored traditional as well as graphic novel works including a Harvard Business Case in graphic novel format and the “Atlas Black” graphic novel.
In the experiment, one set of participants read a short excerpt from “Atlas Black: The Complete Adventure,” a graphic novel created to teach key management concepts using the storyline of two students aspiring to start their own business. A second set of participants read material from a traditional textbook covering the same topics.
After reading, participants were given a short quiz about the material covered in the excerpts. In the study, the participants who had read the graphic novel excerpt were better able to recognize direct quotes than those who read the traditional textbook.
In a companion study, 114 students assigned a graphic novel in a senior-level business course were asked to provide feedback regarding their experiences with the book. More than 80 percent of students indicated that the graphic novel compared favorably to traditional textbooks.
“With that kind of information, that really has a lot of implications about how we should be teaching business, how we should be teaching a lot of things, really,” Short said.
Short said he believes his study is the first of its kind in business or any field that directly compares the impact of traditional textbooks and graphic novel/comic type content. He'll host an exhibit about using graphic novels in education at Friday's TEDxOU at the University of Oklahoma.
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Maybe just a simple graphic explanation ... is the way to go, and maybe where people should be putting their resources if they want their employees to recall things better, their students to recall things better.”