Over the last decade there’s been a steep increase in the use of comics-format material for non-fiction and even textbooks. Coupled with the rise of graphic novels in libraries and increased use as an aid to lure reluctant readers, it’s given comics much more academic respect. But a new study out of the University of Oklahoma showing how students retain knowledge presented in graphic novel format may have even more implications for the educational use of comics—and the study’s creator hopes it will break down remaining barriers.

In the study, to be published in a future issue of Business Communication Quarterly, 140 graduate students in a strategic management class were given two books covering the same subject. One set read an excerpt from the graphic novel Atlas Black: The Complete Adventure, the second read material from a traditional textbook covering the same topics. A short quiz showed that while both groups had absorbed the concepts of the texts equally, students who had read the graphic novel excerpt had better verbatim recall of the material.
In a companion study, 80% of the students felt that the graphic novel treatment of the business topic “compared favorably” with the text-only treatment.
The study’s creator, Jeremy Short, strategic management chair of OU’s Price College of Business, says it’s the first ever peer reviewed study to examine how students absorb knowledge in comics format as opposed to traditional textbooks.

Full piece at PW