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Media centre home > News > Researchers marvel at potential of comics for learning

Issued:01/03/17

A new study has suggested comics are a better resource than text alone for students to learn new educational information.

The research, carried out by psychologists at Sheffield Hallam University, investigated how the presentation of information can determine how well students are able to memorise it. The study specifically tried to determine whether the comic book format or the traditional text book levied the best results - with the comic book format coming out on top.

The researchers used undergraduate biopsychology material which explained the basics of sleep as test material for the 90 participants. The information was presented in three ways - comic book pages, text-only format or text with incongruous images. Participants were then tested on the material using ten multiple-choice questions.

The results of the test showed significantly higher memory scores in the comic condition compared with both the text-only and the incongruous comic condition. The text-only version also showed significantly higher memory scores than the incongruous comic condition.

Dr Paul Aleixo, senior lecturer in psychology at Sheffield Hallam University, is the lead for research working alongside colleague and primary school teacher, Krystina Sumner.

Dr Aleixo said: "The search for techniques and tools to improve teaching methods for students is vitally important for the development of education.

"The findings of our research has provided evidence to support the idea of using comic books to create instructional materials such as text books.

"As we had hypothesised, memory scores were significantly higher in the comic condition than in the text-only condition.

Comic text book - sleeping2 web.jpg
Comic text book - sleeping3 web.jpg

Click to view the images

"Given that the textbook used is aimed at undergraduate level students and that the participant sample comprised a majority of such students, the results further support the concept that the comic book format is suitable for disseminating educational material at undergraduate level.

"Memory scores for the incongruous condition were significantly lower than both the comic condition and the text-only condition. This suggests that the unique aspect of comic books, of combining relevant images and text, creates the maximum memorability for educational material."

Click here to read the full research paper, Memory for biopsychology material presented in comic book format, published in the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics.

For press information: Please contact Martin Webb in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 2621 or email m.webb@shu.ac.uk