The primary goal of this study was to investigate, document, and understand the reasons that educators who use graphic novels in their classrooms choose to use them, rather than traditional text. Secondary goals were to identify the classes they teach, and to identify commonalities and shared best practices. Interviews were scheduled, to provide the with data about learning objectives, students’ reactions, the books they use, types of assignments, the criteria that they use to define the critical elements for success in their classes, as well as the instructors’ own relationships with graphic novels. The phenomenological methodology was determined to be the most appropriate method to understand the teacher’s experiences, and allowed the interview subjects to share and expound on their experiences, thoughts, feelings, images, and memories that described a baseline for the practice of using graphic novels in formal learning environment. The findings of the study were interesting, but not completely conclusive. The primary reason for using comics and graphic novels is teach and promote visual literacy, an important, and a critical skill in contemporary society. Another commonality is high level of student engagement and in the material. Although there are similarities among the other findings, including the encouragement of a love of reading, they actually illustrate the lack of standards and best practices and are based upon the preferences and practices of each individual teacher. The lack of standards also is seen in the teachers approach to using the genre to teach social justice, which ranges from a direct approach to addressing the issue through appropriate titles and assignments, to a more subtle and nuanced one, where individual panels are used rather than a complete book.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Learning technologies; Graphic novels in education

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Polin, Linda;