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December, 2010

K eeping students motivated and actively engaged in their classes can be a challenging task. However, there are some simple strategies we can use to help enhance our students’ interest and keep them involved. By using visual stimuli we are more likely to maintain student attention and encourage active participation. We can also cater for different learning styles. In this month’s issue we look at three different types of visual resources: Cartoons Drawings “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Online audio/video (AV) resources

Using cartoons U sing

humour in class is a ‘valuable teaching tool for establishing a classroom climate conducive to learning’ (Kher,1999). One way of introducing humour into our classes is by using cartoons.

T here

are a number of benefits to using cartoons in teaching because they can: motivate students to engage with the lesson’s teaching point arouse interest in a particular idea or topic

strengthen analytical and critical thinking skills give an insight into the world around us and help students think ‘outside the box’ encourage students to use their imagination help interpret meaning that is otherwise difficult to explain make students laugh and, smile which can relieve their stress and anxiety help teachers build a closer rapport with their students by being able to laugh together help students retain information through a visual and memorable stimulus

grab and maintain attention

How to use cartoons L et’s take this cartoon as an

to introduce a new concept or to reinforce a suitable teaching point e.g. researchers must not be biased

example. It can be used:

as a warmer or icebreaker to the lesson/lecture

Y ou can also get students to:

as an energizer to change focus

create their own captions from suitable cartoons

to initiate classroom discussion and debate about the ethical issues involved in scientific research

analyze the language in the captions

match captions with a selection of cartoons Reprinted with permission

analyze different cultural and/or social behaviour reflect on current events

Where can I find suitable cartoons? T here

are a large number of professional cartoon sites available online that provide cartoons for educational purposes. Not all are copyright free so make sure you understand the relevant terms and conditions.

Using drawings Dr. Olivia Leung

from the Department of Accountancy shares with us how she uses drawings with her students to teach abstract ideas or concepts.

O n top of delivery, our goal is to arouse students’ interest

and promote their lateral thinking. How do we keep students engaged and motivated inside a classroom, especially when the topics are not easy to grasp from the students’ perspective?

Diagram 1


effectively expose students to abstract concepts or theories, I employ the following 4 steps: (1) Introduce terminology before the theory itself. (2) Describe the procedure and environment in which the theory applies. (3) Illustrate the formulation of the theory. (4) Organize the materials and explore beyond the theory.

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each step, I make use of hand-drawn pictures to facilitate learning and to arouse students’ interest and imagination. Here are some examples of drawings utilized for each step above in some of my financial and managerial accounting classes.

D iagram 1 is a comic story of a banking activity.

Since many students are not familiar with the internal procedures of banks, let alone the effects of those procedures on a company’s accounting records, this drawing can familiarize students with new business procedures and arouse their curiosity and interest in the topic.

D iagram

2 is an illustration of the production line of a virtual cake shop that students and I operate in our managerial accounting class. Not only does this illustration familiarize students with the production process of a manufacturing company but it also helps them to identify various production costs and to visualize how these costs could be allocated to each unit of product produced under different costing theories. With the help of the illustration, many students find it easier to reflect and think ‘out of the picture/box’ to identify and explore unknown alternatives.

Diagram 2

Y ou do not have to be a talented illustrator to utilize pictures effectively in your classrooms. The key success factor is to get students involved and engaged with your drawings, to encourage them to imagine and visualize what is in the picture and, most importantly, what is not. Have fun drawing with your students! If you have any teaching tips or any comments on using visual aids for teaching, please post them on the Teaching Ideas Gallery site

Using online audio/video (AV) resources Dr. Ahmar Mahboob ,


a recent visiting fellow here at CityU, discusses how he uses online AV

F ew

Y ou can achieve these goals by using a range of activities

O ver the years I have used online AV resources to achieve

(1) Visit The Speech Accent Archive ( and complete a short activity.

things catch the attention of our students like the planned use of online AV resources in our teaching. Students today spend a considerable amount of time online. We too can also tap into this world to find useful resources that we can build into activities and integrate into our own teaching.

a variety of goals. These include getting students to:

start thinking about the topics that will be introduced in class better understand the topic by providing access to it using different modalities and technologies see how the same topic can be understood, described and explained in different ways

that are relevant to the course that you are teaching. Here is an example of an activity that has worked for me. In teaching a module on World Englishes, where I want students to understand how we can study phonological (sound) differences between speakers of English from around the world, I ask students to:

(2) Listen to speakers from 2 different regions of the world and look at the transcriptions of the texts provided on the website. (3) Make a list of differences between these speakers on a worksheet.

explore the applications of a particular topic in real life

(4) Share their findings with their classmates in groups and I then proceed with my lecture.

see how others present their ideas using a range of AV and other resources

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develop their critical thinking abilities see that learning is fun!

short activity using online AV resources introduces the students to some of the key ideas that I cover in my lecture and keeps them engaged with the topic. This makes our students engage with texts in ways that they are familiar with and can assist in making our teaching a success.

“ production in the classroom enables the development of media literacy, higher order thinking skills, project based learning experiences, real world relevancy experiences, and a deeper connection to the curriculum being explored.� (Nikkos Theodosakis, 2002)

More examples of how videos can be used T he

following sites offer a wide selection of suitable videos to use in class.

Show real-life situations to highlight the use of questioning techniques, communication skills, negotiation skills and presentation skills, e.g. job interviews, medical patient consultations, manager and team working situations, a sales person and customer. Show science or laboratory experiments to help students more easily follow and understand procedures. Pause a section of the video to reflect on the content then continue to the next section then pause and reflect again. Get students to find or create their own YouTube videos to illustrate class content or concepts.

RefSeek's guide to the 25 best online resources for finding free educational videos: YouTube video links Video lectures -life-cycle/

Competition time Can you think of a funny caption to go with this cartoon?

The winners will each receive a small Chinese New Year prize. Please email your caption with your name and contact number to Penny at

Reprinted with permission

The deadline for submissions is January 15th, 2011.

Cartoon by Harry Harrison

Inviting ideas Dear Teachers, In the next issue we will be focusing on different ways of using IT in our teaching. If you have any ideas or freely accessible resources you would like to share with other teachers that we can publish in Issue 4, please contact Penny Akers at Editorial Team

Many thanks to the following teachers who contributed ideas: Olivia Leung (AC) Ahmar Mahboob (USYD) Maria Jose Pareja (LS) Wenyu Dou (MKT)

Editorial Team: Chief Editor: Editor: Assistant Editor: Graphic Designer:

Penny Akers (ELC) Hokling Cheung (EDGE) Josephine Chen (EDGE) Anthony Wong (EDGE)

References Ideas for using cartoons A Fresh Look at Cartoons as a Media of Instruction in Teaching Mathematics and Science in Malaysian Schools: A Hands-on Experience paper_19.pdf The Use of Cartoons as a Teaching and Learning Strategy /papers/doring.html Using Cartoons as a Teaching Tool for Online Learning hing-tool-a254477 Using Humor in the College Classroom to Enhance Teaching Effectiveness in "Dread Courses" 839448/

Not Just for Fun: Using Cartoons to Investigate Geographical Issues 06.00057.x/pdf

Ideas for using online AV resources Using Shared Online Video to Anchor Instruction: YouTube and Beyond tional-design/using-shared-online-video-to-a nchor-instruction-youtube-and-beyond/ Video and Pedagogy es/video/pedagogy.html

Teaching with Visual Aids  

CityU's Teaching Ideas Gallery - Issue 3 (December 2010)