I'm in Washington DC at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) presenting a research project I worked on with two colleagues: Rita Irwin and Ching-Chiu Lin.
Over the last year, we have been conducting research on new teacher experiences in rural British Columbia communities. We presented at a roundtable discussion along with four other arts-based researchers from across North America, and an audience from around the world. Below is a four-page handout we distributed summarizing some of our research.
What’s Your Story? Helping Grade Four Elementary Bilingual Students Shape Narratives Of Identity Through The Creation Of Autobiographical Comic Books
Over the last year, I have been working on a research project entitled What's Your Story. I will be posting developments as I analyze and compile the data into a comics thesis. I would like to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for their generous support of this research program.
SUMMARY OF STUDY AND RECRUITMENT
The proposed study, entitled “What’s Your Story”, poses this research question: In what ways can the medium of autographics (or autobiographical comic books) help shape narratives of identity in grade four bilingual English/French students in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada? The project involves teaching one class of twenty-six grade four bilingual students how to write and draw autobiographical comic books. Data such as student-generated artwork and audio interviews will be collected and analyzed from five participants. By learning to draw comics autobiographically, students discover new ways to tell their own stories and discover a little more about themselves.
This study proposes researching the ways in which comic books can help improve conceptions of identity in grade four bilingual students. Through a series of six one-hour cartooning lessons, twenty-six anonymous participants will learn to draw autobiographical comic books. The student–generated artwork from 5 participants, along with additional data such as audio interviews with the same 5 participants and observations/field notes will be analyzed for themes and patterns. Careful study of the data may provide understandings in the ways bilingual students create identity by drawing autobiographical narratives through the third visual language of cartooning, comic books and graphic novels.
A review of the literature indicates language is an important factor in creating subjective identity. Bilingual students have been selected for this research because they are examples of difference within the community and as such, already have perceived distinct identities.
Bilingual students from a grade 4 French school will be selected to participate. The study proposes to research student identity through comics. Bilingual students in a French school within a predominantly English-speaking community have a perceived difference. The study will involve the participation of five grade four students: either two boys and three girls, or vice-versa. These five will be selected randomly based on the following developments:
- The participant’s parent/guardian has signed and completed a consent form allowing their child to participate anonymously
- The participants are willing to participate
- Attendance at all four 10-minute interviews, as well as completing a one or two-page autobiographical comic
Students who will be excluded as participants in the study include:
- Those who's parent/guardian does not sign and complete a consent form
- Students who indicate an unwillingness to participate in interviews
- Students who are absent for an interview session
- Students who don't complete an autobiographical comic
Nov. 17, 2015
- Introduction of the project to the class of 26 grade four students.
- Drawing exercises and character design demonstrations using simple geometric shapes.
- Teaching techniques for creating an autobiographical/metaphorical cartoon self-portrait.
- Students will invent a pseudonym for their autobiographical character. This will be coded and kept securely by the Primary Contact only.
- Conduct first of four individual five to ten-minute interviews with a minimum of 5 to a maximum of 8 participants who have consented to be audio-taped (copy of interview questions attached in section 9). Students will be referred to in the study by their anonymous pseudonyms and represented visually by their hand-drawn, metaphorical and autobiographical characters only.
In between lessons one and two: students will practice drawing themselves as cartoon characters, and explore creating cartoon characters based on their family and friends.
Except here I ran into an obstacle: the students absolutely did not want to draw stories about themselves!
To be continued next week...