Investigating with Concept Cartoons: Practical suggestions for using concept cartoons to start student investigations in elementary school and beyond

  • Ed van den Berg Univerzita Karlova v Praze, Matematicko-fyzikální fakulta
  • Patricia Kruit Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Hogeschool van Amsterdam


Concept cartoons can be used to diagnose misconceptions and stimulate discussion of basic concepts and phenomena. However, the teacher can also present a cartoon and then ask students to think of experiments to further investigate the phenomenon shown in the cartoon. Our experience is that students from age 9–18 very quickly come with creative ideas and start investigations. That is, of course, only the beginning. The teacher will have to follow the work of the students closely and help them to develop their investigation skills and critical thinking. In the workshop you will experience how to start an investigation with the cartoon and then we will focus on how to use formative assessment to improve the work of students.


Chin, C. & Teou, L.Y. (2009). Using concept cartoons in formative assessment: Scaffolding students’ argumentation. International Journal of Science Education, 10(1), 1307–1332.

Keogh, B. & Naylor, S. (1998). Teaching and learning in science using concept cartoons. Primary Science Review, 51, 14–16.

Keogh, B. & Naylor, S. (1999). Concept cartoons, teaching and learning in science: an evaluation. International Journal of Science Education, 21(4), 431–446.

Keogh, B. & Naylor, S. (2012). Concept cartoons, what have we learnt? Paper presented at the Fibonacci Conference, Leicester, 26–27 April 2012. Available at

Klentschy, M.P. (2008). Using science notebooks in elementary classrooms. Washington: NSTA Press.

Naylor, S. & Keogh, B. (2000). Concept cartoons in science education. Sandbach, UK: Millgate House.

Naylor, S., Keogh, B. & Downing, B. (2007). Argumentation and primary science. Research in Science Education, 37, 17–39.

Primary Connections. (2008). Science Teacher Guides for Age 4–12. Canberra: Australian Academy of Science.

Rocard, M. et al. (2007). Science education now: a renewed pedagogy for the future of Europe. Brussels: European Commission Directorate-General for Research.

Simon, S., Naylor, S., Keogh, B., Maloney, J. & Downing, B. (2008). Puppets promoting engagement and talk in science. International Journal of Science Education, 30(9), 1229–1248.

Tytler, R. & Peterson, S. (2003). Tracing young children’s scientific reasoning. Research in Science Education, 33, 433–465.

van den Berg, E., Kruit, P. & Wu, F. (2012). Getting children to design experiments through concept cartoons. In Bridging the gap between education research and practice. Available at