Marian University Assistant Professor of Mathematics Shines With Graphic Science, Technology, Engineering, Health Professions (STEM) Education Novel

by Dr. Jonathan Lowery and Glendal Jones | Sep 27, 2023

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much more might be conveyed through the story panels of a graphic novel? According to Marian University faculty member Sarah Klanderman, Ph.D., quite a lot – and this medium might be the solution to engaging students with concepts in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Dr. Klanderman, assistant professor of mathematics at the Marian University College of Arts and Sciences, is well aware of the challenges educators face in helping students engage with complex material, especially when it comes to students with negative associations with STEM.

"Educators often turn to technology to convey difficult concepts, but only so much short video clips or animations can do. Studies show that many students learn better using print rather than digital formats," Dr. Klanderman said. "Graphic novels offer the best of both worlds: integration of visual aids with text, and while students are unlikely to read a textbook cover to cover, graphic novels are often in a story format that keeps students turning the pages." Dr. Klanderman, who is a leading voice for incorporating graphic novels into STEM classrooms at all levels of education, added.

Additionally, Dr. Klanderman and Marian University adjunct professor Josha Ho recently discussed some advantages of graphic novels in the online news site The Conversation. "Marian University faculty members are innovative educator-scholars who constantly update and refine their craft to provide learners with an unrivaled educational experience," said Catherine Steding, Ph.D., who serves as the inaugural Scholar-in-Residence for Innovation in Science, Technology, Engineering, Health Professions, and Mathematics Education.

"Dr. Klanderman's exemplary work is not only positively impacting our campus community, but demonstrates how Marian faculty are shaping coaching STEM education more broadly," said Dr. Steding.

Dr. Klanderman, with colleagues at Trinity Christian College and Calvin University's work, is published by Bloomsbury Press and scheduled for release November 2023, and available for pre-purchase. The book also discusses the research behind using graphic novels and provides practical advice for educators using real-world examples and strategies.

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