Cartoons: Can they be used to engage higher cognitive functions in learning?

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During my investigations of humour and the use of cartoons in the educational setting, I came across this intriguing idea of having students draw cartoons to facilitate a deeper understanding of the material.

Here is a short video that describes the basic concepts.


Benefits of this learning activity are (Isham and Williams, n.d.):

  • Help students to synthesize information;
  • Help students to retain information;
  • Engages students.

I figured there was no one better to try this out on than me. Here is my cartoon.

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To analyse the effectiveness of the exercise I took a look at Bloom’s taxonomy to see if it did engage higher cognitive functions.

Remembering/Understanding: Obviously I had to remember and understand what the concept of a self-determined learner was.

Then it got interesting. I had to think how I could apply the concept and have it make sense in a conceptual way. I went through aspects of my life where self-determination would or could be of critical importance. Then I expanded it outwards. Did this also apply to others? Was there an event in history or in fable that could apply? Then, I hit on the idea of Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden and off I went to level 6 – Creating.

Over all the experience was quite fun. With students it would be necessary to reinforce that the drawing part doesn’t matter as the focus is on learning. I really liked how the process had me engage with the information in a new and novel way. I think it would be a fun activity to incorporate into an online  course.

What do you think? Would you be willing to try it?  I would love to see your cartoon!


Isham and Williams (n.d.) The University of Iowa, The Extraodinary Teaching Project: Teaching with Cartoons Retrieved from:


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