Scaling UP the Education Research: MAGICAL (SUPER-MAGICAL): Use of Comics in Teaching Mathematics

Project Number
AFR 04/16 TTL

Project Duration
January 2017 - July 2019


This project is a scaling up of the project MAthematics is Great: I Can And Like (MAGICAL, DEV 07/14 TTL) which develops a teaching package of using comics to teach selected Secondary One mathematics topics and explores the impact of teaching mathematics through comics to NT students in Singapore. The current practices in mathematics education are moving towards combining both visual and graphic form of representation of mathematical tasks. Thus, there is a need to consider changing emphasis of mathematical representation from almost exclusively using word problems to that which combines visual and spatial reasoning. With this in mind, we believe that the use of comics has an important, although relatively unexplored, role to play in our mathematics education. MAGICAL (DEV 07/14 TTL) has successfully trialed the MAGICAL package and initial data shows that students are generally highly engaged in these comics lessons, more students began to find mathematics fun and relevant, and teachers reported that their students performed better on those topics taught by comics than the other topics in their school examinations. More schools (at least 6 more secondary and 3 primary schools, and the 3 schools which are participating in MAGICAL) are interested to introduce comics into their mathematics classroom lessons. We want to ride on this interest to further scale up MAGICAL to (1) include more secondary schools at the secondary one level (through fine-tuning the existing MAGICAL package) (external scaling up of MAGICAL and initialization at the new schools); (2) develop suitable comics material for the participating MAGICAL schools to follow-up at Secondary Two (internal scaling up); and (3) adapting the MAGICAL package to upper primary level (external scaling up to primary schools). Eventually, it is our hope that the use of comics will become a mainstay in the Singapore mathematics education pedagogy. As in MAGICAL (DEV 07/14 TTL), we use design experiment as the foundation of our research. Based on a theory, we conceptualise a design to improve students' learning and teachers' teaching. This design is implemented in a suitable ‘real-world’ context, which are our schools. Research methods (both qualitative and quantitative) are then used to examine the effect of the intervention (in our case, impact on students' motivation, self-concept and performance in mathematics achievement test). Based on the findings of the research, refinement is made to the design which is further implemented and the implementation-research-refinement cycle is iterated until the researchers and the users are satisfied. Based on the limitation of fund, MAGICAL (DEV 07/14 TTL) was able to carry out up to the first iterative cycle.

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