Document Type

Teaching and Learning Strategies


Gifted children--Identification--Study and teaching (Higher); Wit and humor in education; Caricatures and cartoons;


Humor through cartoons is an interesting way to engage students in learning course content. The purpose of this study was to document the process of graduate student-made cartoons that portrayed content about principles of designing gifted education programs. Seventeen graduate students enrolled in an introductory gifted education course identified important content ideas centering on characteristics of gifted students, identification, advocacy, and gifted programming. The students created humorous cartoons related to this content. Each student chose four background scenes from sixteen choices, transforming them into complete cartoons by drawing in extra objects, figures, details, added captions, talking balloons, or other features. Students then anonymously rated the completed cartoons of class members and selected their personal “top ten,” giving reasons for their choices. This information was then used to improve the most highly-rated cartoons, which are presented as an appendix here. The most frequently given reasons for positive ratings were as follows: 1) important content was addressed; 2) effective puns and word plays; 3) effective analogies; 4) humor; 5) effective, colorful, appealing visuals; and 6) emotional expressiveness of characters or wording. For the category addressing important content, the graduate students listed these reasons for rating cartoons: non-specific important content, identification issues, components of effective gifted education programs, teamwork, and handling opposition to gifted education programs. The most-favored word plays included moo-tiple or “Multiple, the way a cow would moo it”, herd interpreted as a “group of animals or team of educators,” and Big eyes (used with Red Riding Hood’s wolf) for “large size eyes or being able to recognize gifted students.” Some analogies were analyzed. The top sources of humor were incongruity and that students “laughed out loud.” Most frequently cited suggestions for improving the cartoons included adding visuals and extra characters, more explanation in the captions, and changing or adding color to the cartoon’s background or object. The graduate students reported that they enjoyed making their own cartoons and viewing those of others. It is recommended that instructors consider asking their students to portray course content in cartoon format, as this was found to be very effective in motivating students. Instructors of courses in gifted education may want to use the cartoons generated here in their courses. [7 Tables, 4 Figures, and 28 cartoon figures in an Appendix.]


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Original Date




File Format