Abstract 5-Volume 6, Number 2, Summer 2011

Students’ Original Political Cartoons as Teaching and Learning Tools

Dr. J.H. Bickford III
Eastern Illinois University


A meta-analysis of educators’ uses of political cartoons suggests they are mostly used for teaching interpretation skills and then usually only with gifted and older students.  This demonstrates creative stagnation, limited elicitation of higher order thinking skills, and age bias.  The researcher previously examined young adolescents’ use of effective and efficient technologies to express historical understandings through original political cartoon construction.  This methodology elicited students’ higher order thinking as they expressed learning within their creations, which were then used as a teaching tool to facilitate constructive whole class interpretative discussions.  The following questions extend previous research and guide this article: “How can one categorize students’ original political cartoons?”  “Which categories illustrate most clearly student-creators’ learning?”  “Which categories are the best teaching tools, as judged by elicitation of lengthy and healthy discussions?”  To address the first question, the researcher categorized students’ original political cartoons and presented representative examples. To address the second question, the researcher triangulated students’ reflective descriptions of intended meanings, uses of historical content, and encoded symbolism and meanings.  To address the third question, the researcher detailed how the original political cartoons impacted students’ thinking during class discussions in two dissimilar contexts.

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