Graphic Novels as Study Guides
Something was amiss in the 370s. Tucked among the SAT/ACT study guides were three graphic novels. They seemed so out of place – colorful, appealing, and reasonably-sized novels set amongst the encyclopedia-esque monstrosities that are most test prep guides. Were they misshelved or perhaps mislabeled? Alas, no, they were indeed SAT vocabulary-building books.
Kaplan has partnered with Manga publisher TOKYPOP to create a new kind of study guides: graphic novels filled with SAT vocabulary words, along with their definitions, pronunciation, and example sentences. The publishers modified existing graphic novels Warcraft: Dragon Hunt, Volume 1, Psy-Comm, Volume 1, and Van Von Hunter, Volume 1, enhancing their vocabulary and adding reference information for each vocab word to the margins.
The absurdity of preparing for standardized test aside, I think that graphic novels as study tools is a great idea. Besides being a proponent of graphic novels in general (anything that develops the desire to read is a good thing), as a visual learner myself, I know the importance of using imagery in education. I swear I only managed to pass history courses with the information I could recall from political cartoons, documentaries, and other visual sources; text-dense readings rarely held my attention beyond a few paragraphs, and even then, it was always easier for me to recall an image than a word.
The combination of visual stimuli and storytelling (a very useful recall device itself) makes graphic novels an effective tool for learning. I would love to see this concept of graphic study guides expanded to more general subject matters – I might even learn a thing or two!