Concept Cartoons Research

Concept Cartoons were developed by Brenda Keogh and Stuart Naylor in 1991 as a strategy to elicit learners’ ideas, challenge their ideas and provide pointers for how those ideas might be developed. (see Concept Cartoon project). Their research analyses the effectiveness of Concept Cartoons as a strategy for teaching, learning and assessment in classrooms and for adult learners such as student teachers. Their research includes a doctoral study carried out by Brigid Downing, where a focus on argumentation provided more detailed data on pupil talk and argumentation (see Argumentation research). The initial focus for their research into Concept Cartoons was science education.

Research questions include:

  • How engaged are learners when Concept Cartoons are used?
  • How effective are Concept Cartoons for eliciting learners’ ideas, challenging their ideas and helping them to decide how to test their ideas?
  • How effectively do Concept Cartoons link together the process of finding out and developing learners’ ideas?
  • How easy is it to use Concept Cartoons in science lessons?
  • How well do they support argumentation?
  • What is talk and argument like when Concept Cartoons are used?

Data were collected through questionnaires, written feedback, interviews, and classroom observation from teachers and student teachers.

The main findings show that Concept Cartoons are:

  • highly motivating across all age ranges and with learners of different levels of understanding
  • effective at both revealing and challenging learners’ ideas, and linking together the process of elicitation and restructuring ideas
  • effective in integrating learning and assessment into a single strategy
  • viewed as very easy to manage in the classroom and potentially offering a valuable strategy for differentiation
  • able to influence teachers’ practice without the need for extensive professional development
  • powerful for generating pupil talk, helping them to co-construct arguments and contextualising science learning opportunities.

The research also identified a set of pedagogic principles that teachers can implement easily using the Concept Cartoon strategy. These include:

  • presenting learners with conceptual challenges and cognitive conflict
  • promoting metacognition
  • locating learning within everyday contexts
  • supporting collaboration and social construction of understanding
  • presenting problems in a form that is easily accessible
  • being non-judgemental about learners’ ideas

More details can be found in the research publications listed below. As Concept Cartoons have become more widely recognised they have become a focus for research carried out by other researchers. Some of these publications by other researchers are listed separately (only English-language publications listed).

Outcomes of the research have been presented at international conferences in several countries including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and USA.

The research findings have influenced practice through a major professional development project (the ConCiSE Project) in the UK. This was initially funded by GlaxoWellcome, ASE, EPSRC, IoP, PPARC, RSC and SciCentre. More recently the project has been supported by Millgate House Education. Related consultancy and professional development has been carried out in Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, the Netherlands, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Penang and Singapore. A list of publications related to the professional development programme is available.

The outcomes of the research have also led to other developments, including the Active Assessment project and the PUPPETS project.

Publications by Brenda Keogh and Stuart Naylor et al

Naylor, S. and Keogh, B. (2012) Concept Cartoons: what have we learnt? Paper presented at the Fibonacci Project European Conference, Leicester, UK

Naylor S. and Keogh B. (2011) Concept cartoons: what have we learnt? Paper presented at the WCNTSE Conference, Kusadasi, Turkey.

Naylor S. and Keogh B. (2008) Concept cartoons: an example of research enhancing professional practice. Learning & Teaching update, 20, 4-5.

Dabell, J. (2008) Using concept cartoons. Mathematics Teaching, 209, 34-36.

Naylor S. & Keogh B. (2002) Concept cartoons. Teaching thinking, 9, 8-12.

Keogh, B. and Naylor, S. (2002) Thinking about science through concept cartoons: a summary of research. Paper presented at the 10th International Conference on Thinking, Harrogate, England.

Goodwin, A. (2002) An evaluation of the ConCiSE Project. Manchester Metropolitan University.

Keogh B., Naylor S., de Boo M. & Feasey R. (2001) Formative assessment using concept cartoons: initial teacher training in the UK. In R Duit (Ed) Research in Science Education: Past, Present and Future, 137-142. Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Naylor S., Keogh B. & Downing B. (2001) Dennis likes a good argument: concept cartoons, argumentation and science education. Paper presented at the ASERA Conference, Sydney, Australia.

Keogh B. & Naylor S. (2000) Concept cartoons and issues in science teacher education. Proceedings of the SCIcentre/ASET conference 2000, 108-112. Leicester.

Keogh B. & Naylor S. (2000) Teaching and learning in science using concept cartoons: why Dennis wants to stay in at playtime. Investigating 16, 3, 10-14.

Keogh B., Naylor S., de Boo M. & Feasey R. (1999) The use of concept cartoons as an auditing tool in initial teacher training. Paper presented at the ESERA Conference, Kiel, Germany.

Keogh B. & Naylor S. (1999) Concept cartoons, teaching and learning in science: an evaluation. International Journal of Science Education, 21, 4, 431-446.

Naylor S. & Keogh B. (1999) Science on the Underground: an initial evaluation. Public Understanding of Science, 8, 1-18.

Naylor S. & Keogh B. (1999) Constructivism in the Classroom: Theory into Practice. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 10(2) 93-106.

Keogh B. & Naylor S. (1998) Teaching and learning in science using concept cartoons. Primary Science Review, 51, 14-16.

Keogh B., Naylor S. & Wilson, C. (1998) Concept Cartoons: a new perspective on physics education. Physics Education, 33, 4, 219-224.

Keogh B. & Naylor S. (1997) Developing children's ideas: putting constructivism into practice. in teacher education. In R. Feasey (Ed.) Proceedings of the third summer conference for teacher education in primary science, 139-146. University of Durham, UK.

Keogh B. & Naylor S. (1997) Developing children's ideas: putting constructivism into practice. Paper presented at the ESERA Conference, Rome, Italy.

Keogh B. & Naylor S. (1997) Making sense of constructivism in the classroom. Science Teacher Education, 20, 12-14.

Keogh B. & Naylor S. (1996) Learning in science: cartoons as an innovative teaching and learning approach. Proceedings of the 8th IoSTE Symposium, Volume III, 133-9, Edmonton, Canada.

Keogh, B. and Naylor, S. (1996) Teaching and learning in science: a new perspective. Paper presented at the BERA Conference, University of Lancaster. Available here.

Keogh B. & Naylor S. (1996) Cartoons as a stimulus to learning in science. Paper presented at the NSTA Conference, St Louis, USA.

Keogh B. & Naylor S. (1995) Investigating Cartoons in Science Education. Paper presented at the European Conference on Research in Science Education, Leeds.

Keogh B. (1995) Concept Cartoons. An exploration of the possible value of cartoons as a teaching approach in science. Unpublished MA dissertation, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Keogh B. & Naylor S. (1993) Learning in science: another way in. Primary Science Review, 26, 22-23.

Publications by other researchers

Akamca, G., Ellez, M. and Hamurcu, H. (2009) Effects of computer aided concept cartoons on learning outcomes. Procedia – Social and Behavioural Sciences, 1, 1, 296-301.

Balim, A., Inel, D. and Evrekli, E. (2008) The effects of using concept cartoons in science education on students’ academic achievements and enquiry learning skill perceptions. Elementary Education Online, 7, 1, 188-202.

Birisci, P. and Metin, M. (2010) Developing an instructional material using a concept cartoon adapted to the 5E model: a sample of teaching erosion. Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, 11, 1, article 19.

Birisci, P., Metin, M. and Karakas, M. (2010) Pre-service elementary teachers’ views on concept cartoons: a sample from Turkey. Middle East Journal of Scientific Research, 5, 2, 91-97.

Chin, C. and Teou L.Y. (2009) Using concept cartoons in formative assessment: scaffolding students’ argumentation. International Journal of Science Education, 31, 10, 1307-1332.

Chin, C. and Teou L.Y. (2010) Formative assessment: using concept cartoons, pupils’ drawings and group discussions to tackle children’s ideas about biological inheritance. Journal of Biological Education, 44, 3.

De Lange, J. (2009) Design based research: the use of Concept Cartoons in Flemish science education – improvement of the tools and effectiveness in learners’ language skills. Paper presented at the ESERA Conference, Istanbul, Turkey.

Dolasir, S (2007) The effect of Concept Cartoons on the conceptual errors of students in elementary science teaching. Unpublished PhD thesis, Ankara University, Turkey.

Ekici, F., Ekici, E. and Aydin, F. (2007) Utility of Concept Cartoons in diagnosing and overcoming misconceptions related to photosynthesis. International Journal of Environmental & Science Education, 2, 4,111-124.

Inel, D., Balim, A. and Evrekli, E. (2009) The opinions of students about the use of Concept Cartoons in science and technology education. Nekatibey Faculty of Education Electronic Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 3,1,1-16. US-China Education Review, 5, 11, 47-54.

Ingec, S. (2008) Use of concept cartoons as an assessment tool in physics education. US-China Education Review, 5, 11, 47-54.

Kabapinar, F. (2005) Effectiveness of teaching via concept cartoons from the point of view of constructivist approach. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 5,1,135-146.

Kabapinar, F. (2007) What makes concept cartoons more effective? Using research to inform practice. Education and Science, 34, 154, 104-118.

Kinchin, I. (2000) Concept mapping activities to help students understand photosynthesis – and teachers understand students. School Science Review, 82 (299), 11-14.

Kinchin, I. (2004) Investigating students’ beliefs about their preferred role as learners. Educational Research, 46, 3, 301-312.

Millar, L. and Murdoch, J. (2002) A penny for your thoughts. Primary Science Review, 72, 26-9.

Morris, M., Merritt, M., Fairclough, S., Birrell, N. and Howitt. C. (2007) Trialling concept cartoons in early childhood teaching and learning of science. Teaching Science.

Mustafa, D., Ozgul, K. and Ahmet, A. (2010) Use of concept cartoons with 5E learning model in science and technology course. Paper presented at the ICONTE conference, Antalya, Turkey.

Oluk, S. and Ozalp, I. (2007) The teaching of global environmental problems according to the constructivist approach: as a focal point of the problem and the availability of concept cartoons. Educational Sciences Theory and Practice, 7, 2, 881-896.

Rahmat, F. A. (2009). Use of concept cartoons as a strategy to address pupils’ misconceptions in primary four science topic on matter. In A. L. Tan, H. M. Wong, & S., Tan (Eds.), Action research: Empowering my practice in teaching science (pp. 11-37). Singapore: National Institute of Education and Science Exploria, East Zone Centre of Excellence for Primary Science.

Sahin, C. and Cepni, S. (2011) Developing of the concept cartoon, animation and diagnostic branched tree supported conceptual change text: ‘gas pressure’. Eurasian Journal of Physics and Chemistry Education, January, 25-33.

Sexton, M. (2010) Using concept cartoons to access student beliefs about preferred approaches to mathematics learning and teaching. Paper presented at MERGA conference, Freemantle, Australia.

Sexton, M., Gervasoni, A. and Brandenburg, R. (2010) Using a Concept Cartoon to gain access to children’s calculation strategies. Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, 14, 4, 24-28.

Stephenson P. and Warwick P. (2002) Using concept cartoons to support progression in students’ understanding of light. Physics Education, 37, 2, 135-141.

Xiong, Y-y. and Wu, X-q (2009) The application of concept cartoons in the teaching of friction. Asia-Pacific forum on Science Learning and Teaching, 10, 2, article 16.

Concept Cartoons Resources

Evans D., Jones A., and Storey P. (2015) Concept Cartoons Financial Skills. Millgate House Publishers.

Moules J., Horlock J., Naylor S. and Keogh B. (2015) Science Concept Cartoons, Set 2. Millgate House Publishers.

Keogh B., Naylor S., Hankey E. and Williams J. (2014 ) Sand Dune Ecology Concept Cartoons. Millgate House Publishers.

Naylor S. & Keogh B. (2014) Science Concept Cartoons Set 1, revised edition. Millgate House Publishers.

Turner J., Smith C., Keogh B. and Naylor S. (2014) English Concept Cartoons. Millgate House Publishers.

Keogh B., Naylor S., Hankey E. and Williams J. (2012) Concept Cartoons Talking Sport and fitness. Millgate House Publishers.

Dabell J., Keogh B. and Naylor S. (2008) Concept Cartoons in Mathematics Education. Millgate House Publishers.

Naylor B & S. (2000) Science Questions stories. Hodder Headline. Republished in CD format (2010) by Millgate House Publishers.

Keogh B. and Naylor S. (2007) Spellbound Science Book 1. Millgate House Publishers.

Keogh B. and Naylor S. (2006) Spellbound Science Book 2. Millgate House Publishers.

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