The effects of teaching strategy and cognitive style on student interpretations of editorial cartoons
Hunter, John Mark
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Many people assume that editorial cartoons are easily understood by the bulk of the population. For this reason, editorial cartoons are often used as teaching materials in the classroom. Recent research, however, raises doubts as to the effectiveness of this practice. Investigations by Bedient (1971) and DeSousa & Medhurst (1982) determined that the majority of students (grade 5 through college) could not interpret editorial cartoons. These investigators went on to suggest that a logical next step would be to determine if editorial cartoon literacy can be taught. The cognitive style of the participants was examined to determine if the different teaching strategies were differentially effective vis-a-vis field dependence and field independence. Two presentations (treatments) were designed to model methods of reading editorial cartoons. The Whole Cartoon Analysis presented 25 editorial cartoons along with a 100-200 word interpretation of each cartoon. The Parse Analysis Treatment was accomplished in three steps rather than the one for the Whole method. In step one, the whole cartoon is presented with a short gloss of the meaning. In step two all of the cartoon is visually suppressed except for one visual meaning element. This element of the cartoon is discussed and then the next element of the cartoon is added, and so on until the entire cartoon is back on the screen at which point the overall meaning is discussed. The dependent variable of the investigation was the two-part Editorial Cartoon Interpretation Task. Part A asked each participant to enumerate the symbols in the cartoon and define them as to meaning. Part B asked the participant to write a short thematic interpretation of the cartoon. A two-way Analysis of Variance on the data revealed no significant differences in either the main effects or the interaction.
- Doctoral Dissertations