The contemporary communication landscape is indisputably a visual one, with much written on the responsibility of Australian educators to address the literacy needs of the young inhabitants of this landscape; those best described as the Eye Generation – a generation born and raised on a diet of visual media. To this end, current curriculum documents for English in NSW secondary schools mandate the teaching of image-based texts as a means to develop multiliteracies in students.
Over the last decade a growing body of research has indicated the capacity of one particular format of image-based text, the graphic novel, to facilitate the development of alphabetic, visual, critical and cultural literacies (Frey & Fisher, 2004; McVicker, 2007; Ranker, 2007; Schwertner, 2008). Despite these findings, however, the interest in using graphic novels to develop multiliteracies has generally not translated into teachers’ practice, and graphic novels remain excluded from the body of school-sanctioned narratives that inhabits many English classrooms (Annett, 2008; Carter, 2007).
To address the marginalization of graphic novels as texts and the virtual absence of research into teachers’ experiences with them, this study will explore the experiences of secondary English teachers using graphic novels in NSW classrooms. Using a hermeneutic phenomenological case study methodology, rich narratives of these experiences will be drawn from in-depth interviews and the written reflections of participants.
It is anticipated that the illumination of the research participants’ perceptions and practice regarding graphic novels will enhance participants’ pedagogical self-awareness and facilitate professional growth. Drawing on Everett Rogers’ (2003) theory of the diffusion of innovations and its notion of “trial-by-others”, it is also expected that the study will encourage those engaging with the research findings to reflect and act upon their own perceptions and practice regarding graphic novels as texts. Further, it is hoped that the research findings will provide guidance in the areas of curriculum development and professional learning for teachers.
Di Laycock has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Dip. Ed. from the University of Sydney, and a Master of Education in Teacher Librarianship from Charles Sturt University. Before moving into her current position as a teacher librarian in 2003, Di was a secondary classroom teacher for 25 years.
For some time, Di has been an enthusiastic advocate for the inclusion of graphic novels in schools and has made numerous presentations to teachers and teacher librarians at local, national and international conferences. Her other passion is practitioner research and since 2007, Di has coordinated the Action Research Program for the International Boys’ Schools Coalition.
- Laycock, D. (2011). Different texts for different times. Conference paper presented at Inspiring Boys, Inspiring Schools, International Boys’ Schools Association. London, 12 July.
- Laycock, D. (2011). Different texts for different times. Making Connections that count. English Teachers' Association of NSW Conference. Sydney, Australia, 5 August 2011.
- Laycock, D. (2010). Going global: action research in boys' schools. Appreciating our diverse pasts, comprehending our complex presents, prefiguring our possible Future. Eighth World Congress Participatory Action Research and Action Learning. Melbourne, Australia, 6 - 9 September 2010.
- Laycock, D. (2009). Different texts for different times. Conference paper presented at Seeing Things Differently, School Library Association of Victoria. Melbourne, 22 November.
Supervisor: Alyson SIMPSON
Awards and honours
ASLA (NSW) Teacher Librarian of the Year 2008