Research in Science Education

, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 2309–2326 | Cite as

Engaging Teenagers with Science Through Comics

  • Amy N. SpiegelEmail author
  • Julia McQuillan
  • Peter Halpin
  • Camillia Matuk
  • Judy Diamond


Despite many years of efforts to communicate new scientific knowledge to the public, surveys continue to suggest that many people remain uninformed about current scientific research (Miller 2001, 2004) and fail to recognize how it can be relevant to their lives. There is continued need for investigation on improving methods for engaging people with scientific knowledge. Our goal is to contribute to efforts to disseminate emerging science knowledge by focusing on a particularly relevant science topic, viruses, and a critical age group, teenagers. Prior research suggests that many teenagers have low science achievement and/or low interest in science (Gonzales et al. 2008) and thus can be characterized as having low science identity. How can educators engage all teenagers, even those with low science identity? Guided by identity theory and a model of interest development, we assess one possible, unconventional approach—using comic books to convey science information.



Comics Graphic novel Graphic story Virology Science engagement Science identity 



The Bureau of Sociological Research (BOSR) staff at the University of Nebraska conducted the data collection. The authors thank Amanda Richardson, Nicole Bryner, Michelle Howell Smith, Richard Hull, Kristin Childers, Lindsey Witt, Deb Predmore, Matthew Colling, Deborah McPherson, Michael Walker, Leanna Cayler, Jared Forst, Eric Lim, Shane Lowe, Kim Meiergerd, Sheereen Othman, and Shasta Inman for assistance with data collection, coding, and analysis.


This research was supported by the World of Viruses project funded by the National Institutes of Health through the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) [grant number R25RR024267 (2007–2012)]. Its content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIH.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy N. Spiegel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Julia McQuillan
    • 2
  • Peter Halpin
    • 3
  • Camillia Matuk
    • 4
  • Judy Diamond
    • 5
  1. 1.Center for Instructional Innovation, 215 Teachers College HallUniversity of Nebraska–LincolnLincolnUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of Nebraska–LincolnLincolnUSA
  3. 3.Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human DevelopmentNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Graduate School of EducationUniversity of California–BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  5. 5.University of Nebraska State Museum, University of Nebraska–LincolnLincolnUSA

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