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Assessing Graphic Stories as Indicators of Creative Thinking and Literacy Level among Malaysian Secondary School Students

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Abstract

With the current uncertainties of future employment and Malaysian poor literacy rates, effective reading activities, which embed creative thinking, must be reconsidered in teaching and learning. While studies on creative thinking and assessment are available, none considered graphic stories as an assessment of creativity. Based on two short stories, graphic stories produced by secondary school students are assessed for creativity using a rubric of creativity. The assessment consists of four-Novelty, Utility, Aesthetic and Authentic. Findings revealed that Novelty was indicated in the interpretation of the texts to show understanding based on the given resources. Aesthetic was also indicated through the form of graphic stories presented through careful planning. The creative assessment on the participants' graphic stories provided a glimpse of literacy level among the rural high school students in Malaysia. This paper contributes perspective on creativity among ESL students and guides for further research on literacy in Malaysia.
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Vol. 12, No. 6, 2022, E-ISSN: 2222-6990 © 2022 HRMARS
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Assessing Graphic Stories as Indicators of Creative
Thinking and Literacy Level among Malaysian Secondary
School Students
Nur Zarina Mohamad, Hanita Hanim Ismail, Radzuwan Ab Rashid
To Link this Article: http://dx.doi.org/10.6007/IJARBSS/v12-i6/13157 DOI:10.6007/IJARBSS/v12-i6/13157
Received: 17 April 2022, Revised: 20 May 2022, Accepted: 01 June 2022
Published Online: 18 June 2022
In-Text Citation: (Mohamad et al., 2022)
To Cite this Article: Mohamad, N. Z., Ismail, H. H., & Ab Rashid, R. (2022). Assessing Graphic Stories as Indicators
of Creative Thinking and Literacy Level among Malaysian Secondary School Students. International Journal of
Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences. 12(6), 1497 1515.
Copyright: © 2022 The Author(s)
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Assessing Graphic Stories as Indicators of
Creative Thinking and Literacy Level among
Malaysian Secondary School Students
Nur Zarina Mohamad
Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sungai Burung, 45500 Tanjong Karang, Selangor, Malaysia
Hanita Hanim Ismail (Corresponding Author)
Faculty of Education, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia
Radzuwan Ab Rashid
Centre of English Language Studies, Faculty of Languages and Communication, Universiti
Sultan Zainal Abidin, 21300 Kuala Nerus, Terengganu, Malaysia
Abstract
With the current uncertainties of future employment and Malaysian poor literacy rates,
effective reading activities, which embed creative thinking, must be reconsidered in teaching
and learning. While studies on creative thinking and assessment are available, none
considered graphic stories as an assessment of creativity. Based on two short stories, graphic
stories produced by secondary school students are assessed for creativity using a rubric of
creativity. The assessment consists of four Novelty, Utility, Aesthetic and Authentic. Findings
revealed that Novelty was indicated in the interpretation of the texts to show understanding
based on the given resources. Aesthetic was also indicated through the form of graphic stories
presented through careful planning. The creative assessment on the participants’ graphic
stories provided a glimpse of literacy level among the rural high school students in Malaysia.
This paper contributes perspective on creativity among ESL students and guides for further
research on literacy in Malaysia.
Keywords: Creative Assessment, Graphic Stories, Innovation, Literacy, Malaysian Secondary
Students’ Creative Thinking
Introduction
Prior March 2021, Malaysian students were required to sit for three public examinations
(UPSR during the primary education and PMR and SPM during secondary education)
throughout their schooling years, labelling the national education system as exam-oriented, if
not “high-stakes” (Ong, 2010), “teaching for test syndrome” (Lim, 2010) and “finishing syllabi
syndrome” (Sam & Yong, 2006). All these question the quality of students’ thinking, especially
on their creative thinking. This is because thinking ‘outside-the-box’ remains a distant concept,
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especially among students from the rural areas. With their reputation of depending on their
teachers as the “purveyor of information” (Lim & Nordin, 2007), habits such as remaining
passive in classroom and being spoon-fed are often common practices in the Malaysian
classrooms (Peen & Arshad, 2014; Khan, 2015) impede the development of creative thinking.
This is further aggravated, especially with the advent of technology where students have high
dependency rate of the Internet. While students are indirectly affected by national issues on
assessment and intervening aspects like the influence of the Internet, they struggle internally.
An evident of this type of struggle is seen in the rate of literacy among Malaysian students
which was recently reported to be relatively low as compared to other Asian countries. This
was observed in several PISA results (Table 1).
Table 1
Malaysian students’ performance in PISA 2009-2018
PISA Cycle
Reading Literacy
PISA 2009
414
PISA 2012
398
PISA 2015
432
PISA 2018
438
Source: OECD
While the Malaysian Education Blueprint and Common European Framework (CEFR) standards
place emphasis on heutagogy where students are encouraged to take up active roles, there is
a need to include pedagogy in order to develop students’ creative elements during teaching
and learning sessions. Creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something
new through efforts of inventiveness (Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009). Creative thinking also calls
upon the ability to free one’s mind in order to create, interpret and visualize possibilities and
to use his imagination in generating new ideas. At present, there is an obvious demand for
skilful and creative students in the job market as creative thinking is regarded as a crucial skill
needed in the future. The World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs Report (2020) identified
creative thinking as one of the top three skills required in order to thrive in 2020.
Since literacy covers both writing and reading, writing activities continue to be perceived
as intimidating (Sabti et al., 2019) by Malaysian school students to a point needing to inculcate
self-efficacy in writing (Shah et al., 2011). Some studies even suggest the use of graphic stories
as a means of inculcating writing interest (Singh et al., 2019; Krishnan & Hui, 2019). As the
Malaysian educational policy emphasizes on promoting creative thinking, graphic stories is
also considered as a means of developing students’ creativity. Graphic stories combine written
text and visual literacy in its representation of the physical world (Derrick, 2008) where it
sharpens and deepens visual literacy (Schwarz, 2006). Unlike graphic novels, graphic stories
are relatively shorter in length with restricted storyline and narrative. Both are stories that are
told in “sequential illustration” (Rajendra, 2018), which do not only offer effective medium of
narrative that combine two primary elements words and pictures but are also capable of
sustaining similar effects, as those observed in the conventional types of literary texts, e.g.
novels and short stories (Prosperi, 1998). Similar to novels, graphic stories are also categorized
into different genres, i.e. horror, comedy, romantic and fantasy with different subject matters
(ranging from fictional and non-fictional). Researchers’ motivation for this study was based on
the declining interest of literature among Malaysian secondary school students and in effort
to enhance literature pedagogical ways to attract students’ attention and interest.
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To date, graphic stories are used as effective language learning and reading engagement
activities, which echo the Media Richness theory that suggests individuals will have enhanced
recall when visual elements are integrated into communication (Simpson 2007). In fact, it is
found that visually-assisted materials such as comic book and graphic stories reduce gender
gap in terms of literacy (Hammond, 2012; Huseyin & Efecioglu, 2015; Honig, 2018). To enhance
creativity in English class, graphic stories is one of the ways of igniting students’ interest.
Research Objectives and Questions
While mainly measuring the level of creativity among the secondary school students based on
graphic stories as their final products, this study also observed the students’ level of literacy.
As such, this study specifically asked two questions:
(1) How does the rubric of creativity for graphic stories assess creativity through
the produced graphic stories?
(2) What is the level of literacy as indicated in the graphic stories?
Partaking of these research objectives would highlight an insight on the current reading
culture among Malaysian secondary school students as a feedback to efforts taken by the
ministry.
Literature Review
Issues on literacy in Malaysia and ways to improve literacy rate
When PISA 2018 announced that Malaysian mid-secondary school students obtain a score of
415 as compared to other similar age students from other OECD countries with a specific
indicator that boys as the lazier gender when it comes to reading (Chin, 2019), this shocked
the nation. Yet, there were earlier studies on the level of literacy in Malaysia, yielding for
improvement (Puteh et al., 2016; Asraf et al., 2016; Asraf & Abdullah, 2017). This stirred
numerous directions in research, particularly discussing issues on national literacy. National
literacy issues among Malaysian school students are indirectly associable to the type of
materials offered to them. In one direction, there are studies on the cultural setting that
implicate readability (Mohideen et al., 2020) while another look at the general setting that are
featured in the text (Abdullah & Hashim, 2007). Past studies also looked into efforts to
improve literacy through different approaches, Rajendra (2011), for example, indicated that
the use of multimodality is an option that would encourage high literacy. Similarly, there are
studies suggested on maximizing visualization. Both, Singh et al (2019); Krishnan & Hui (2019)
suggested that reading comprehension is improved through the use of graphic novels and
graphic organizers which indirectly improves issues regarding literacy in Malaysia.
Creative Assessment in Malaysian ESL classrooms
Creativity is defined differently. On one hand, its pursuit results integrating existing knowledge
into new perspectives. In general, it involves a process of creating new ideas or recombining
familiar elements into something new for best solutions through the use of ordinary mental
abilities such as perception, memory, etc. (Pearce, 2010). In fact, creativity is observed to be
the most complex human behaviours, influenced by a wide range of social, developmental and
educational experiences that lead to different types of creativity (Cropley, 1999; Sternberg,
1999). A creative process is at the heart of innovation where often both terms are used
interchangeably. While “creative thinking is the thinking that enables students to apply their
imagination to generating ideas, questions and hypotheses, experimenting with alternatives
and to evaluating their own and their peers’ ideas, final products and processes” (Kampylis &
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Berki, 2014) p. 6), innovation as a subset of creativity is one of the outcomes which come
through the processes of creativity, creative techniques and may result the development in an
individual’s creativity skills. In fact, genuine creativity must be relevant to the issue at hand
and able to offer genuine solutions, (i.e. effective).
On another hand, new research on creativity also look into identifying assessment
tools, which is regarded as challenging and ambiguous (Treffinger et al., 2002; Kaufman et al.,
2008; Baer & McKool, 2009; Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009; Batey et al., 2010). Because of the
lack of agreement in definition (Batey, 2012; Piffer, 2012), researchers and scholars have
developed different instruments for assessing creativity (Batey, 2012), which reflect the
conception and nature of creativity (Treffinger et al., 1971). When it comes to assessing
creative writing, the assessment of its creativity is problematic where Mozaffari (2013)
questioned the need to assess creativity to begin with. At Malaysian level, there are studies
on assessing the level of creativity among Malaysian school students (Alghafri & Ismail, 2014;
Jamal et al., 2020). Panadero and Jonsson (2013) stated that rubrics may not only have the
potential to influence students learning positively, but also offers different ways to mediate
improved performance and self-regulation.
There are two main functions of rubrics of creativity as defined by the researchers in
this study. Interestingly, a possible creative assessment can also be based on identifying
aspects that would allow accurate assessment. Kharkhurin (2014) identifies a four criteria of
creativity where he explained that:
Novelty attribute stipulates that a creative work brings something new into
being, which presents a new conceptual framework and/or modifies or violates
an existing one. Utility attribute stipulates that a creative work is what a producer
or a recipient considers creative, what represents an important landmark in
spiritual, cultural, social, and/or political environment, and what addresses moral
issues. The aesthetics attribute stipulates that a creative work presents the
fundamental truth of nature, which is reflected in a perfect order, efficiently
presents the essence of the phenomenal reality, and is satisfactorily complex,
expressing both tension and intrinsic contradiction. Authenticity attribute
stipulates that a creative work expresses an individual's inner self and relates
one's own values and beliefs to the world.
(p.338)
Any teaching and learning activity should consider including creativity and innovativeness
in order to develop learners’ higher levels of risk-taking because separating these activities
would not guarantee the development of both elements (Ismail et al., 2019). The combination
of these two high creativity skills and high levels of risk-taking, would prepare them to be
better learners. Creativity and innovation would encourage exploratory perception onto trying
new activities, where self-doubt is eliminated and learning is now reorganized because
learners are challenging themselves. Inside and outside classrooms, the creation of learning
communities and its discourse ought to be considered which enables the development of
criteria for relevance and value in passing evaluation. Harrington (2018), for instance, called
for the usefulness of values in novel solutions. Yet, there are disagreements on the value of a
solution.
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Method
This qualitative study served as a pilot study for a larger scale research in order to test different
aspects of the intended research (Van Teijlingen & Hundley, 2001; Arain et al., 2010). During
the process of the pilot study, the researchers have the opportunity to try different
assessments on the intended research before selecting for a specific assessment. In the case
of this study, graphic stories as final products were used to assess Malaysian secondary school
students’ level of creativity and level of literacy.
In this pilot study, instructions were given to the participants to produce graphic stories
based on two chosen short stories as guidelines for adaptation in their graphic stories. The
short stories are: Maupassant’s The Necklace (1884) and Brennan’s The Fruitcake Special
(2000). Both short stories were chosen for their feature of good moral values and lessons (i.e.
gratitude, appreciating others, carpe diem, empathy, chasing one’s dream in life), which are
categorical within the criteria of Utility in Kharkhurin’s (2014) four criterion of creativity which
are novelty, utility, authentic and aesthetic. The outcome was expected to cover four aspects:
(1) the participants’ ability to present a storyline, (2) their inclusion of moral values, (3) their
individualized interpretation of the short stories, and (4) their ability to present uniqueness in
rewriting the story in the form of graphics. Both short stories scored between Fairly easy
reading (Brennan’s The Fruitcake Special with 87.8) and Easily understood for 13-15 year-old
students (Maupassant’s The Necklace with 77.6) in the Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES) test
to assess both readability level.
The participants were given the instructions for this task before the initiation of the 3rd
Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia. After a year of enduring Covid19 which swept
worldwide by storm, face-to-face (f2f) learning sessions in the school are now halted and
replaced by online teaching and learning (Murad et al., 2020; Lukas & Yunus, 2021),
introducing Home-based Learning. They were then given three weeks to complete the task.
There were also a series of follow- ups conducted during the teaching and learning sessions
from home through online meetings in order to ensure comprehension as well as to provide
guidance to the participants.
Participants
A total of 15 students from a rural background secondary school in Tanjong Karang, Selangor,
Malaysia, were chosen as participants. Tanjong Karang, which is a rural area in Kuala Selangor
district, is populated by a community who mainly run paddy fields as a source of income. The
community use Malay language or Javanese language. Most of the students are classified as
B2 and below as according to CEFR level. These participants were from different classes
(namely Anggun, Bestari and Cekal) among the two upper secondary levels (Form 4 and 5; 16-
17 years of age). Three of these classes are students with intermediate proficiency and fluency
and they are rated based on their examination marks as the merit.
The participants were selected based on convenience sampling. Three aspects of
consideration were identified: (1) great interest in creating graphic stories, (2) obtained
substantially good marks in their formative assessments, and (3) have the ability to come up
with a good storyline. In general, convenience sampling is administered when the chosen
participants are those who are “convenient” to the researcher. The process of identifying
these participants was not complicated for the researchers since the participants were
conveniently available and were readily approachable to be a part of the sample.
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Table 2
Demographics
Male (Form 4)
Female (Form 5)
3
3
2
3
2
2
These 15 participants are mostly from B1 below according to CEFR standard level. There are 7
male and 8 female students involved in this task. All seven male students are from Form 4
while the eight are from Form 5. Table 2 illustrates the distribution of the participants
according to language proficiency and level of study.
Analysis Procedures
For the purpose of this study, all four criteria were used since the criteria enabled the
assessment of the Malaysian secondary school students’ level of creativity through the use of
the produced graphic stories. Initial assessments also indicated that Kharkhurin’s (2014) four
criteria would also allow an assessment of the participants’ capacity to produce a creative
product. At the same time, these four criterions fit with the construct of the Rubric of
Creativity as adapted from PISA (2019), which suited the objective of this research. PISA rubric
standard (2020) was designed to assess school students from different parts of the world in
terms of their level of creative thinking, which is accurately aligned with the CEFR- based level.
Based on Kharkhurin’s (2014) four criteria of creativity, the graphic stories were assessed to
provide a list of carefully distribution of marks as according to the criteria.
In order to trace their level of literacy, a pre- and post-reading tests were administered
before the participants read and discussed the short stories. Upon finishing the post-reading
test, the participants created graphic stories. Both pre- and post-reading tests were conducted
by using a Google Form. This enabled the assessment of their literacy level, which contained
two sets of questions. Both sets contain 10 multiple choice questions on each short story,
which are related to the characters, theme, plot, setting and moral values or lesson. These
questions sets were the same for both pre- and post-reading tests in order to measure
participants’ literacy level and understanding before they create the graphic story and after
they complete the graphic story task. Participants only answered the set of questions based
on the short story they have chosen.
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Table 3
Participants’ Score on Pre- and Post-Reading Tests
Participant
Figures
Short Story
Level Of
Proficiency
Pre-Reading
Test Score
Post-
Reading
Test Score
1
1
Maupassant’s The
Necklace
Intermediate
5/10
9/10
2
2
Brennan’s The
Fruitcake Special
Intermediate-Low
4/10
7/10
3
3
Maupassant’s The
Necklace
Intermediate-Low
5/10
7/10
4
4
Brennan’s The
Fruitcake Special
Intermediate
6/10
9/10
5
4
Brennan’s The
Fruitcake Special
Intermediate
6/10
8/10
6
6
Maupassant’s The
Necklace
Intermediate-Low
5/10
7/10
7
7
Maupassant’s The
Necklace
Intermediate-Low
4/10
6/10
8
8
Brennan’s The
Fruitcake Special
Intermediate-Low
4/10
7/10
9
n/a
Maupassant’s The
Necklace
Intermediate
4/10
8/10
10
n/a
Maupassant’s The
Necklace
Intermediate
4/10
7/10
11
n/a
Brennan’s The
Fruitcake Special
Intermediate-Low
3/10
7/10
12
n/a
Brennan’s The
Fruitcake Special
Intermediate
4/10
8/10
13
n/a
Brennan’s The
Fruitcake Special
Intermediate-Low
4/10
7/10
14
n/a
Maupassant’s The
Necklace
Intermediate-Low
3/10
7/10
15
n/a
Brennan’s The
Fruitcake Special
Intermediate-Low
4/10
6/10
Based on Table 3, every participant showed better understanding after reading the short
story and created graphic story based on it, compared to before they start reading the story
given carefully. This is because by reading more than once, students gain understanding and
spark their interest to convert the short stories into graphic stories. After they created the
graphic stories, they began to understand the storyline better and interpret them according
to their understanding.
Intermediate proficiency students are proven to score better than intermediate to low
proficiency students in both pre- and post-reading task. Their literacy levels are also different,
which make individual perception on the short stories different. The tests were created by
researchers to determine if students’ literacy before and after creating their own graphic
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stories is different and improved, besides the graphic stories, which is also used as an indicator
of literacy. Intermediate proficiency participants understood what they read, extracted from
the short stories given and had clear instruction of what they needed to do. They also derived
their own understanding to create the graphic stories. In contrast with intermediate to low
proficiency participants, it is quite a struggle for them to understand thoroughly what they
read from the short stories. Hence, their graphic story shows their own interpretation of the
text as gist and not fully comprehends the stories meaning.
Analysis and Discussion
From 15 graphic stories that showed a combination of written texts and visual literacy (Derrick,
2008), 10 produced graphic stories, which were out of the given context and dissociated from
the task assigned. Despite not abiding to the instruction to maintain originality of storyline by
employing adaptation method, these 10 exhibited the use of all four criteria of creativity as
stated in the Rubrics of Creativity for Graphic Stories, thus making the product as acceptable.
The participants maintained elements of moral values, which were also implicitly stated in
either of the short stories. The graphic stories indicated clear inclusion of values and lessons
(e.g. gratitude and appreciation of others in life), which was presumably driven from their
complicated family background and difficulties at home. These participants might also find
that the difficulty of the assigned short stories, despite both short stories are with high
readability level as indicated in FRES test. As such, they chose to construct their own versions
based on their understanding and gist of the story. Failing to retain both of the short stories’
original storylines might also suggest an existing problem with reading comprehension, thus
providing a glimpse of the reality on the level of literacy among these participants, answering
the second Research Question in this study.
The remaining 5 participants however, illustrated based on the short stories and created
graphic stories. Despite that, there were indications of scattered alteration from the short
stories, which led to the building of a new storyline. They also used their creativity and
imagination as a platform to extend or adjust the story to individualize the products as their
own. There are only two drawings from the 15 that were hand-drawn while the rest are a
collection of animated pictures, photos taken from Google Images. However, these
participants did not copy any text: they only outsourced the images, possibly finding difficulty
to draw exact expressions. The originality or novelties of these new graphic stories are not in
doubt since the text in caption are fully written by these participants. The following sub-
sections directly addressed the first Research Question on the participants’ level of creative
thinking via their production of graphic stories.
Novelty
Novelty as defined by Kharkhurin (2014) is identified when the creative work indicated
something new (either offering a new perspective or modifying the existing one). Based on
this definition, this criterion was observable based on the content of the sample, the context,
the development of the storyline and ideas portrayed in the graphic stories. When Runco and
Sakamoto (1999) explained that creativity is a result of human beings’ complex behaviour
which is influenced by different aspects of social and educational backgrounds, the
researchers observed that ten participants chose to individually interpret the short stories and
produce graphic stories, instead of adapting parts from the given short stories. These
participants indicated the use of creativity as an active process which involves innovation.
There is clearly an indication of engagement with imagination during the process of generating
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individually unique ideas to produce new storylines while experimenting with alternatives to
evaluate their own ideas, their peer’s ideas or suggestion, the feedback from consultation to
come up with their final product (Kampylis & Berki, 2014). To support Amabile (1997), findings
show that novelty was shown as part of creativity, especially with the participants’ exploration
of appropriate ideas.
Based on the Rubrics of Creativity for Graphic Stories, the researchers identified the
participants’ effort to fulfil the criteria and use the expected guideline for grading purposes.
In terms of Novelty, 8 participants achieved Level 4 (Outstanding) with the score of 16-18. The
researchers evaluated these graphic stories based on the level of newness offered in the
products by conveying refreshing ideas to the readers. In general, the participants produced
graphic stories based on their own ideas, instead of reading from the short stories assigned.
In fact, these produced graphic stories were not adaptations but instead, entirely on their own
interpretations. These participants used their creativity to develop their graphic stories based
from initial ideas in their mind which were then completed the story with organized storylines.
Figure 1 illustrates this discussion. Sample 1 who is a Form 5 female student (as indicated in
Figure 1) employed the criteria of Novelty since the ideas is not an adaptation from
Maupassant’s The Necklace. In fact, the storyline is based on the participants own ideas and
perception on the moral values highlighted in the short story (i.e. being appreciative).
Maupassant’s The Necklace brings forth a discussion on appreciating others such as family,
co-worker and people around us. As such, the sample chose to develop a story that features
family because the graphic story included characters such as adults and children and criticizes
on adults’ treatment towards children. The graphic story suggested for an appropriate
treatment and dynamics between the two group of people (adult-children relationship),
reminding the readers to consider amicability and pleasantry. To date, there are numerous
headlines in mainstream newspapers on child abuse and child mishandling (Balasegaram,
2020), which reiterate the sample’s focused moral values. Based on a discussion with the
sample, she intended on The appreciative element is there and the owner is enlightening the
concept through what she had in mind while drawing this story. This sample deserve to
achieved Level 4 with the highest score since the story belong entirely to the owner and not
an adaptation. This finding is aligned with Hocevar (1981) which mentioned that the most
prominent characteristic of rubrics that assess graphic stories as a creative product is they act
as instruments in their diversity, indicating the complexity of defining and measuring
creativity.
Figure 1: Sample 1’s Graphic stories
Participants with intermediate level of proficiency produced a final product with higher
score compared to participants with intermediate to low proficiency. These participants have
been given a set of question to answer after they read the short stories given and determine
their choice of short story. There are 10 questions on each set of question and this is where
the understanding of the short stories was evaluated. There are 4 participants with a score of
11-15 in Level 3, indicating Excellent. Their graphic stories offer a new idea where despite an
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inclusion of an invented storyline, there are efforts to maintain to some extent, similarities of
original written ideas from the Maupassant’s short story. In Level 2 (Emergent), there are 3
participants with a score of 6-10 for their graphic stories that suggested an exhibition of
partially new ideas yet including heavy indications of original written ideas from the text. They
did not adopt the story in total since they only adapted the plot.
Utility
Utility as defined by Kharkhurin (2014) is indicated in the creative product which it addresses
moral values and features elements of life experience e.g. spiritual, cultural, social and political
aspects. Findings revealed that utility is indicated from the participants’ schemata of their own
life events and experiences (Emmott & Alexander, 2014) where the participants included
moral values in the graphic stories which suggests familiarity. The choice over selecting these
values indicated an intimate and personal approach after reading the short stories. 10 out of
15 participants obtained the score of 16-18, which is Level 4 (Outstanding), indicating some
amount of Utility were included in the graphic stories. These graphic stories indicated the
participants' level of sensitivity towards their current context. Figure 2 and 3 are several of the
best employment of Utility in the submitted graphic stories.
Figure 2: Sample 2’s Graphic stories
Figure 3: Sample 3’s Graphic stories
Because the participants took the initiative to consider a shared moral values, the
researchers were able to resonate with the choice, as explained by Emmott and Alexander
(2014) when readers use schemata to make sense of events and descriptions. The participants
provided default background information for comprehension, as it is rare and often
unnecessary for texts to contain all the detail required for them to be fully understood.
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Usually, many or even most of the details are omitted, and readers’ schemata compensate for
any gaps in the text. As schemata represent the knowledge base of individuals, they are often
culturally and temporally specific, and are ordinarily discussed as collective stores of
knowledge. Both of the stories in Figure 2 and 3 were not related to the assigned short stories
but the owners of both graphic stories maintained the focus on the moral values as
incorporated in the short stories (such as appreciative and kindness). Maupassant’s The
Necklace features values such as appreciative of others while Brennan’s The Fruitcake Special
includes appreciative of memories and others while work smart to achieve something in life.
These participants included at least 5 moral values such as appreciative, kindness,
compassionate, wisdom and adaptability. The stories from these figures were also produce by
female students from form 5 classes.
The researchers derived and motivation in highlighting the moral values and the
participants’ level of sensitivity on the current situation is based on the first discussion and the
day the task was given. To suit the current situation of teaching and learning session which
emphasizes moral education in building manner, moral values element is a must in this graphic
stories. The discussions about these elements are also being monitor during every
consultation. This is to make sure the core moral values element is there and the cross
curriculum lesson happened.
There were 2 participants who obtained Level 3 (Excellent) with the score of 11-15 where
their graphic stories included many moral values and were sensitive to current context.
However, the participants from this level only include 3-4 moral values from the short stories
or created their own storylines. These participants were evaluated based on the number or
moral values they have inserted in their graphic stories. To be evaluated, the participants are
being referred to rubric and also compared with the participants from Level 4 graphic stories.
3 participants received the score of 6-10 which is in Level 2 (Emergent) because their graphic
stories included around 2 elements of moral values and below while indicated some level of
sensitivity towards current context. The graphic stories they have done has less moral values
inserted compared to graphic stories that are within Level 3 and 4.
Aesthetic
In terms of Aesthetics, Kharkhurin (2014) explains that the creative work is a presentation of
an organized outcome where details are considered e.g. the graphic stories were presented
perfectly neat, containing readable handwriting (if any), pleasant to the eyes besides
associating closely to the original storyline in order to achieve Level 4 (Outstanding). Findings
on the criteria of Aesthetic revealed a level of consideration was employed in order to create
an impact as explained by Media Richness Theory where individuals will have enhanced recall
when visual elements are integrated into communications (Simpson 2007). In fact, the choice
of colour and use of format also play a role in enhancing readers’ interest to associate
meaning. The findings support that because 10 participants obtained score 16-18 marks
(Outstanding) because their graphic stories were perfectly neat, nice handwriting (if any),
clean and clear to read, pleasant to see and relate well to the story line. Following is the best
illustration of the employment of Aesthetic among the graphic stories.
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Figure 4: Sample 4’s Graphic Stories
Figure 5: Sample 4’s Graphic stories
Figure 4 and 5, which are horror-based, were produced by a singled-author, a female Form
5 student. The sample focused on creating eerie feelings where she included dark and strong
colours such as red and black as well as spooky images (e.g. the dark castle-like silhouette,
which sets the mood). These images were then appropriately placed in strategic places to
allow easy reading. The sample achieved a high score for the criteria of Aesthetic mainly
because of her choice to use images from Google Images, Pinterest and Getty Images. This is
an effort to make sure the visuals are clean and clear while capturing readers’ interest to
continue reading.
The sample’s choice of theme, images, colours and background are considerably suitable
and related to the intended mood of the story. In fact, these combined aspects create accuracy
to the context and content that was delivered. Both figures indicated an observable
combination of high level of creative skills and risk-taking attitude when determining the
selection of theme. Since creativity is needed in developing new teaching materials which
would attract young pupils to learn the English, it is crucial that ESL learners to have both high
creativity skills and high levels of risk-taking (Ismail et al., 2019). This sample illustrates a
combination of both creativity and risk-taking attitude where she was bold to present an
adaptation based on horror while enhancing her creativity (despite the storyline in the graphic
story was not related to neither of the short stories given). This graphic story shows an
organized storyline, organized plot in sequencing the images, the clean and clear images and
writing, the suitable images according to the storyline and the placing of everything with
symbolism such as the images of spooky castle as an eeriness, holding hands images as the
symbol of love and unity bonding and the emphasize of the trip as a journey for two people to
resolve their issues. Meanwhile the other 5 participants scored 11-15 (Excellent) since their
graphic stories are averagely neat, clean and clear to read, pleasant to see and relate well to
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the story line. These 5 participants are showing a little less of organization in the storyline as
well as lack of neatness. The sequence and organization in the sample of this score level are
showing lack of plan beforehand and lack of relation to the story they are trying to convey as
their own ideas or from the short stories given.
Authentic
Kharkhurin’s (2014) definition of Authentic as creative works expresses an individual’s inner
self, indicating a relation between his values and beliefs of the world. The criteria of
Authenticity as part of the Rubric of Creativity for Graphic Stories clearly specifies that works
ought to be produced by the participants themselves without copying or getting inspiration
from the Internet or other resources, yet retaining similarity of the short stories. To be able to
fulfil this criterion, the participants were required to first read and fully understand the
assigned short stories given. This was assumed to be doable for any upper secondary school
student, even if they had not understood the short stories (e.g. meaning, theme). Thus, careful
reading of the short stories was required to understand the texts and to explore its content
and context before expanding the idea into graphic stories. Findings indicated that despite
some dissociation from the original texts in producing the graphic stories, which suggests
students’ low level of literacy and lack of reading interest, the task was one way of tackling
these problems by using different approaches. Rajendra (2011) suggests for the use of graphic
stories to deal with problems with reading comprehension at schools. This is reiterated by
others who promote for the use of (Singh et al., 2019; Krishnan & Hui, 2019). The findings also
echoed the fact that graphic novels are able to sharpen and deepen visual literacy (Schwarz,
2006).
Figure 6: Sample 6’s Graphic stories
Figure 7: Sample 7’s Graphic stories
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10 participants obtained the score of 16-18 which is Level 4 (Outstanding) where their
graphic stories were 100% done by the sample himself be it whether it is based on the story
adaptation or their own ideas. Figure 6 and 7 show the highest score of Authentic which is
Level 4 (Outstanding) for abiding to some of the aspects in the short stories, despite altering
the original plots in the texts. The participants showed understanding of the given short stories
and innovated with their interpretation. The participants, who drawn Figure 6 and Figure 7,
chose Brennan’s The Fruitcake Special as a guideline and chose appropriate images from
Google Images, Pinterest and Getty Images in order to form the envisioned characters based
on their visualization of the characters. Despite following the arrangement of the storyline in
the texts, they were able to produce one graphic story which was created based on their
interpretations of the plots, character and storyline. They chose to follow the story while
inserting separate pieces as her own.
Figure 8: Sample 8’s Graphic stories
Next, 3 participants, who scored 11-15 which qualified as Level 3 (Excellent), produced graphic
stories that retained most of the storyline from the short stories. At the same time, there were
evidence where these 3 participants included pieces within the graphic stories that followed
the elements from the short stories which was then adapted using Internet sources. Changes
of ideas which were observed in the development of these graphic stories were inspired by
others, instead of depending entirely on the participants’ own idea. Figure 8 is an example of
graphic stories that scored Level 3.
Conclusion
Findings from this study indicated that the content produced by the participants were aligned
with their imagination. This study also indicated that creativity can be assessed with a
specifically-designed rubric that assessed the produced graphic stories. The use of graphic
stories has proven to be a fun learning activity (either as a homework or task), where the
participants were committed to the given task, especially during the pandemic Covid-19. This
project provided an outlet for the participants to express their creativity while learning
language, particular as part of a reading engagement activity. Pre- and post-tests
This study has provided insights into secondary school students’ ability to formulate
their own perspectives and interpretations of a situation while expressing their own opinions
in creative ways. These students might use the opportunity of a project like this to express
their inner thought and reveal what they have in mind. The implications and problems
encountered in this study only involved the shortage of time and the online class learning as
this makes the observation quite complicated along the way. The contribution of this study is
to assist Malaysian educators, specifically those who specialize in literature in applying
variations of pedagogical ways to teach and strengthen students’ attention and interest in
learning literature. Graphic stories in this study can be used as one of the ways to enhance
students’ motivation in being creative while learning language through literature. This study
hopefully will be helpful for researchers who are also interested in furthering study in the
same field and derive future research in measuring creativity and other related aspects and
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act as a guidance to form rubrics as a suitable method in assessing to assess creativity for
further related study.
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