Teaching With Cartoons: Best Practices

Cartooning is appropriate for any discipline, from engineering to art to medicine to journalism.

Explain to students how cartooning will help them meet course objectives.

Reassure students that beautiful art is not the primary goal.  Stick figures can convey significant information.

Explain to students that new ideas will emerge as they sketch.

Help students to understand how visual assignments will be graded.  See Derek Bruff’’s blog post “A Crowdsourced Rubric for Evaluating Infographics” for suggestions.

Cartooning can be collaborative, which allows for the development of partnership and an opportunity to explore how change or unconscious elements might develop the story.  Schedule a “comics jam” in which students work together to create one complete comic.

  • Provide grid sheets for each student and give them five minutes to complete one panel before moving on.
  • If you like, add rules such as carrying over an image from the previous panel, using only one word in each panel, using no words at all, starting from the last panel, and more.

A simple online search for “Comic Template” will yield many sources for printable comics templates on which students can draw.

The practice of cartooning can involve little more than pen and paper, but many people enjoy cartooning on a tablet computer. Penultimate is one of many iPad apps popular for drawing.