Professor utilizes graphic novels as an alternative to high-priced textbooks
One OU Price College of Business professor may not have been a comic book fanatic when he was younger, but he is a superhero to college students bearing the burden of expensive textbooks that are sometimes just plain dull to read.
“A lot of people would ask me if I was a huge comic book geek when I was a kid but not really,” Jeremy Short, professor of management and entrepreneurship, said.
In addition to the normal academic research appearing in peer review journals, Short has created several graphic novel textbooks in the past few years that help engage students rather than using the typical dry (not to mention expensive) textbooks most professor use.
After teaching at Texas Tech University for five years and now a recent resident to Norman, Short, the Rath chairman in Strategic Management, is a new Management and Entrepreneurship professor at OU’s Price College of Business.
Several co-authors have also helped Short with this endeavor. Talya Bauer at Portland State University, Dave Ketchen at Auburn University, Tyge Payne at Texas Tech University, Jim Combs at the University of Alabama and Rob Austin at the University of New Brunswick all contributed to this new generation of textbooks that cost around $20, a fraction of the price of traditional texts that include a $100-plus price tag. The first chapter of each book is available online free for review at flatworldknowledge.com.
These graphic novel textbooks have a comic book feel to them, but rather than being read for only entertainment, these textbooks are meant for students to learn the material Short teaches.
“I notice that students don’t like textbooks. They are boring and just widely expensive,” Short said.
He said he thinks graphic novel textbooks are just easier for students to digest. In an article Short co-wrote in the journal Business Horizons, 85 percent of Masters of Business Administration students who used a graphic case Short created rated this medium favorably to traditional text cases.
Aaron McKenny, an OU doctoral student who is mentored by Short, has also taken part with this project. After teaching several strategy classes with graphic novel textbooks, McKenny surveyed his students to see if they approved of this learning method. He found a generally good reaction.
“Students are motivated to learn the information if it is more interesting,” McKenny says.
Short and McKenny co-wrote a paper that covered the use of graphic novel textbooks in a classroom and the students reaction to them. According to McKenny, the paper covers two years of collected data and will be presented to the Southern Management Association annual meeting in Savannah, Ga this November.
Short developed the idea after noticing the increasing popularity of graphic novels that were used to educate an audience. “Maus”, a graphic novel written by a Holocaust survivor, won a Pulitzer Prize. Also, a graphic form of the 9/11 Commission Report was influential among the public.
The topics of Short’s textbooks relate to management and business success. In one of his publications, “Tales of Garcón: The Franchise Players,” inspired by a mixture of the “Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World” and J. Peterman from “Seinfeld,” a dim-witted son and intelligent daughter also take part in the plot, trying to figure what is the best way to expand their family business. This textbook is a how-to guide on successful family businesses and franchising.
“There’s over 700,000 franchises in the U.S,” Short said. “80 percent of business worldwide are family businesses.”
Short also co-wrote the graphic novel textbook, “University Life: A College Survival Story,” a vital resource for college freshmen, who are usually overwhelmed by their first weeks at college. High school seniors are also a focus, showing how they can prepare before venturing to college.
McKenny said it would be great for business schools to use graphic novel textbooks by providing information about the different departments within the school such as accounting, management, finance, and giving students not aware of these different departments an idea of what may interest them for a future career.
Short hopes for graphic novel textbooks to eventually be picked up by mainstream bookstores like Barnes & Noble. Currently Short’s graphic offerings are available through the publisher’s website and can be purchased at Amazon.com.
Lauren Duff, Life & Arts reporter