EAGER: Adolescents Learning Social Problem-Solving Skills Using an Interactive On-Line Graphic Novel

PI: Elizabeth Ozer
University of California-San Francisco
Award Details

The long-term goal of this project team is to learn how to design interactive graphic novels and associated serious games to help adolescents learn social problem solving skills. The intention is that these skills will not simply be learned in a way that allows the teens to say what they should do but, rather, that they will be learned in a way that results in behavior change. The project is investigating the use of graphic novels to engage teens in thinking about difficult social situations and to model for them ways of dealing effectively and in non-violent ways with those tricky situations, and they are investigating the use of associated serious games and other interactive components to promote reflection on what has been read, promote discussion around the situations, and provide opportunities for practice. This novel idea has its foundations in the approach to therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Modification and resonates with what the approach to education called Cognitive Apprenticeship suggests about promoting skills learning. The project brings together experts in Cognitive Behavioral Modification, social psychology, interactive narrative, design of graphic novels, serious games, and adolescent health and well-being. The goals of this EAGER project are to (i) synthesize social psychology, interactive narrative, and serious games approaches to envision the experiences learners need to have to learn and take on new social problem solving behaviors, (ii) begin the design of an interactive graphic novel and experiences around it that has a good chance of promoting behavior change among the targeted population of at-risk teens, and (ii) develop a strong research team that will collaborate over the long term in following through on worthy ideas that come from this initial effort.

The potential broader impacts of this work lie in the potential for (i) using graphic novels, which are easily accessible and can be of high interest to young people, to promote thinking and doing that can help teens learn new problem solving behaviors, (ii) learning how to promote productive behavior change, and (iii) identifying the roles technology can play in such learning and how to use technology well as a resource in promoting productive behavior change.

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