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Honors Senior Highlights Importance of Undergraduate Research

Vibrant colors, exciting graphics, and illustrative pictures fill the day of Honors Program senior, Kristen Tinch.  Tinch began her research project as a freshman at Murray State University.  The instructional use of graphic novels—commonly referred to as “comic books”—intrigued Tinch after she read Persepolis.

            “It’s fresh and up-coming; I could see kids really enjoy it,” said Tinch.  “I was primarily interested in how teachers in Kentucky could use [graphic novels].”

            Tinch majors in English and Spanish education and hopes to be a high school teacher upon graduating. 

Tinch explained why graphic novels are effective in teaching children to read and to enjoy books. 

“The classroom environment is so very different,” said Tinch.  “Reading these graphic novels gives the students a sense of accomplishment.”

            Tinch recommends that everyone get involved in research.  Not only will it provide competitive edge, it serves as an asset to formulating an Honors thesis.  This is a requirement Honors Program students must complete in order to graduate with an honors diploma.  

            “One thing I really enjoy about research is you get to create your own learning; it’s very organic and not so regimented,” said Tinch.

            Tinch won the Murray State Undergraduate Research Fellowship in 2010.  As a result she was able to travel throughout the state of Kentucky interviewing and surveying teachers about graphic novels.

            Tinch said the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity has been a great resource for her. They provide and publicize several presentation opportunities for students.  Tinch has presented in Cincinnati, Ohio, Lexington, Ky., Little Rock, Ark., and most recently at Murray State as a part of the Freshman Reading Experience 2011 selection Persepolis.

            As Tinch begins the spring semester, she will begin formulating her senior honors thesis.  She hopes to trace the origins of the first graphic novels and the influence of pictures and literacy through research of illuminated manuscripts from the Medieval Ages.

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