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Superhumans: How teachers use graphic novels to encourage student engagement in learning



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This qualitative study explored how teachers used graphic novels to encourage student engagement in learning. A case study approach was used to achieve my two research objectives: 1) to examine current research about graphic novels and pedagogical understandings relevant to the study of graphic novels as a pedagogical resource, and 2) to identify the pedagogical understandings of four secondary language arts teachers using graphic novels to encourage student engagement in learning. Action research framed the approach used to examine the collaborative practices of four teacher participants and myself as we learned about graphic novels. Interviews, focus groups, observations, and artifact analysis all contributed to highlighting the pedagogical understandings of the participants. The findings confirmed previous scholarship that graphic novels can be a beneficial pedagogical tool in ELA classrooms, further encouraging student engagement in learning and valuing students out of school interests. The findings also confirmed that teachers go through a unique, collaborative, and at times, individualized process of learning before teaching a new resource, but when preparing and sharing graphic novels with students preferred to frame the learning using before, during, and after comprehension strategies and activities to present their units. The findings also affirmed that resource selection and evaluation was highly influenced by the teachers prior-interests and understanding of curriculum. The study also produced some interesting findings that suggested the need for pre-service and in-service professional development opportunities around graphic novels so that teachers can be prepared to support and growing multimodal and multiliterate population. Furthermore, and unexpectedly, the participants each developed a passion for graphic novels where they previously had none and all continue to use graphic novels in their classrooms and read them for pleasure.



multimodal literacy, multiliteracies, graphic novels, student engagement, pedagogy



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


Curriculum Studies


Curriculum Studies


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