Date of Award

12-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Mehmet Aydeniz

Committee Members

Stergios G. Botzakis, Gary J. Skolits, Barbara J. Thayer-Bacon

Abstract

According to the results from the 2015 NAEP science exam, female students in 12th grade scored an average of 5 points lower than males, indicating continual stagnation since 2009. Research indicates one of the ways schools can positively impact the self-confidence and interest in science for female learners is through equitable representation and healthy portrayals of women doing science (Kimmel, 1999). In addition, studies have indicated the positive role comics and graphic novels play in student learning, academic performance, and identity development in the academic sciences (Özdemir, 2010; Hosler & Boomer, 2011). With the increasing popularity of graphic literature in the classroom, this study critically examined the representation and portrayals of females in award-winning science comics and graphic novels. Framed in critical feminism and relational learning theory, the text and illustrations of YALSA award-winning comics/graphic novels were analyzed using a coding scheme created using the deductive and inductive approaches to qualitative content analysis. The findings of this qualitative content analysis revealed females were underrepresented in YALSA award-winning science comics in the total number of frames. However, healthy depictions of female characters were revealed in half of the sample with the presence of counter stereotypes, positive self-identity, personal development, and the relational approach to learning. Overall, this study indicated there remains a need for increased representation of females in science comics.

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