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Comparing the Effectiveness and Engagement of Comics to 3D Animation in Teaching Advances in Nanomedicine

Angela W. Gao, Evelyn T. Maizels, Kevin M. Brennan, C. Shad Thaxton, Kaylin McMahon, Christine D. Young


Translating new discoveries into viable therapies is dependent upon communication between scientists and medical professionals, especially in the emerging field of nanomedicine. Understanding of mechanisms on the cellular and molecular scale is commonly facilitated using 3D animation. However, this project sought to validate the knowledge transfer of complex biomedical information in nanomedicine using an alternative medium, the comic book. This medium has been effective for science communication but remains largely untested in medical education.

In order to explore the differences in knowledge gain, engagement, and preference between comics and 3D animations, a comic book about a synthetic high-density lipoprotein gold nanoparticle’s apoptotic effects on lymphoma cells was created and compared to a 3D animation with identical content. Thirty-five individuals consisting of medical students, physicians, graduate students, and research scientists in the biomedical sciences were randomly shown the comic or the animation following a pretest. A posttest and preferences survey was conducted afterward. Results indicated that both the comic and animation were similarly effective at increasing knowledge about the HDL AuNP mechanism of action and had a similar level of engagement.

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