Of Comics & Dual Coding

Meet Dr. Wales and Learn How Art Can Enhance Learning

by Kristine Worthington – August 8, 2017

Most of us hope that we will do a job we love when we grow up. For Dr. Andrew Wales that has happened. A childhood passion for comics led him to Mansfield University to learn about art and teaching. Jump ahead and we find Dr. Wales as a self-published comic artist and a teacher of art at Athens High School. As a teacher, he acts as a role model and a guide for his art students. He advises students to be realistic about the challenges of making a living with comic art, while encouraging them to pursue their passion for art.

The comics created by Andrew Wales cover a wide variety of topics and of course some are educational. Through his comic books, you can learn about historical artists and decode challenging Shakespeare lines, among other things. Several of Dr. Wales published comic books are available at Pop’s Culture in Wellsboro.

At a young age, Andrew experienced how art could be a powerful learning tool. His grades were not stellar because he had a hard time focusing on what the teachers were presenting. Then he had a ta-da moment when he realized that he could record and learn classroom information as sketches. Clearly, Andrew’s new strategy worked. He successfully completed high school and continued his post-secondary education to the Doctorate level.

There is a good deal of research that explains the results Andrew experienced when he began sketching to learn. In Derek Bruff’s Blog on Teaching and Technology, he sums it up this way, “When we activate both channels, (visual and verbal) at once, so they work together, we’re better able to understand and remember ideas.” Neuroscientists refer to the activation of these two brain channels as dual coding. The notetaking process Dr. Wales showed us is called sketchnotes and it employs the concept of dual coding. In this style of note-taking, learners organize and connect words and images in meaningful ways that summarized not only key details of the information being presented, but also the larger ideas. For many learners the process of creating and linking images to verbal information helps them listen more intently. Sketchnoting is not only being used by students to improve learning, the movement has made its way into business.

If you are getting excited to give this a try, all you need is a pencil or pen and some paper. Explore the process of sketchnoting for personal journaling, storytelling, or learning. You don’t need to be an artist to begin and you will get better at sketchnoting with practice. This presentation of sketchnotes by Dr. Wales gives you the basis idea, and there are a wide variety of resources available on line. Have fun growing your brain with sketchnotes.

Credits:
Idea/Concept: Kristine Worthington
Videography: Erin O’Shea
Video Editing: Erin O’Shea
Writing: Kristine Worthington
Correspondent: Kristine Worthington

Produced by Vogt Media
Supported by Mansfield University, UPMC Susquehanna

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