(326b) The Integration of Visualization into Education through Comics and Animation

Landherr, L. J., Northeastern University
One of the major obstacles to effective learning in STEM is the abstract nature of many core STEM concepts. While traditional approaches include examples of real-world applications, demonstrations, and/or hands-on experimentation, the depth and complexity of these concepts can cause such efforts to be unsuccessful. Further exacerbating the problem, some theoretical concepts do not have obvious visual representations that could make the concepts less abstract and so more comprehensible to students.

The benefits of broadening visual instruction in education are not just restricted to learners with particular inclinations toward visual learning. Studies have shown that combining text with images improves students’ retention of information, and multimedia presentations of concepts allow for better transfer of the gained knowledge towards solving problems. In short, increasing the visual content of STEM instruction promotes students’ conceptual understanding.

Recently, the use of comics and animation as learning tools has grown dramatically, with a broad set of artists, book series, and videos all dedicated to integrating visualization into educational approaches. This recent growth stands in stark contrast to the long history of comics as educational tools, during which the known potential of comics in learning has fought a societal perception of comics that has limited research and impact over much of the last century.

This presentation will focus on the range of visual techniques being used; the potential of comics and animation in improving student enthusiasm, confidence, and understanding; and the impact of these techniques observed thus far.