Rachel Greer

How Do You Like Your Science?: A Comparison of Infographic and Text Based Approaches

April 5, 2021   /  

Student Name: Rachel Greer
Major(s): Neurobiology
Advisor: Dr. Laura Sirot, Dr. Ferdinand Nanfack Minkeu

Most Engaging Poster Award

COVID-19 along with the increasing access to social media and the internet has created unique circumstances for science communication globally and nationally. The pressure for scientist to engage with the public and effectively communicate is growing exponentially, well the ethical responsibility of scientist to provide information with all the individuals it affects is increasing importance. There has been a surge of research into infographics as an effective scientific communication tool, due to its ability to reduce cognitive load. However, despite the recent influx of research there are still many gaps into the effectiveness of infographics when compared to other media forms with certain audiences. This study focused on using Zika virus as a case study to evaluate the effectiveness of an infographic as compared to an article in communicating to college students ages 18 to 22 in terms of immediate and delayed retention, preference of media, attitudes towards scientific topics, and post-survey actions. I hypothesized the individual receiving the infographic would do better in all aspects of effective communication. My specific predictions were individuals receiving the infographic would perform better on retention tests, have more positive attitudes towards the media, have a greater change in attitudes towards science topics, and influence post-survey actions. The results contradicted many of my initial predictions, the infographic group had no impact on retention scores, attitudes, and behaviors. However, the individuals who received the infographics had more positive views and preference of the media as compared to the article, indicating in young adults’ infographics may be preferred. The control group did have a significantly higher score on all retention tests, indicating receiving both media forms poses a potential benefit in increasing comprehension and knowledge acquisition. Future directions for this study include conducting the same study with different groups of audiences, in a collaborative manner, and a test of transfer knowledge to determine if preferences remain the same and retention is greater when given both media forms.

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Rachel will be online to field comments on April 16: 4-6 pm EDT (PST 1pm-3pm, Africa/Europe: late evening).

60 thoughts on “How Do You Like Your Science?: A Comparison of Infographic and Text Based Approaches”

  1. Often in a study we measure concepts that we did not intend to measure. Is it possible you also measured motivation or learning methods such as auditory, visual, tactile etc. For example your infographics may have preferenced those learners with photographic memories. Since your results were not statistically significant i.e. less than 5% you probably measured some other attribute. You did however recognize the distinction between age groups and I agree there are differences between those groups yet to be defined. Overall this was an interesting thesis well executed meeting the thesis parameters.

    1. Thank you! I think you bring up a really good point and something I kind of discuss in the limitation portion of my thesis. That by measuring only conceptual and factual knowledge in primarily multiple choice questions, it favor people who thrive in those type of learning situations. Which could include individuals with a photographic memory. In fact all my participants regardless of treatment group did way better on the multiple choice questions than I expected. In a future study I would measure transfer knowledge and application of knowledge learned in short answer based questions. This would allow me to see if participants understand the information but also can take the information and truly apply it and make decisions with it.

  2. Rachel this is AWESOME!! And congrats on the most engaging poster award – well deserved! Especially for a thesis on how to improve science communication!!! I was curious how you think we could use this information to better communicate science to the general public. Everyone should be able to understand the latest research – how would you use this knowledge to make that happen?

    1. Thank you so much Marcel!!😊 That’s a great question, I think there are a couple ways at least from what I have learned. I think for one this shows on a basic level how there is a need for education incorporated into under-graduate and graduate STEM programs on how to communicate to the public. This could include projects on communicating, articles on the recent research in the field of science communication, and community outreach programs. So all scientists have the skills to needed such as creating basic infographics or writing interesting articles to effectively communicate. I think this research also shows the need to really think about and consider the audience you are trying to communicate to. As this may really determine the best approaches for communication. Lastly, I think this shows the importance of having multiple tools to communicate with. Such as an article and infographic to make the information more accessible. If possible incorporating a two-way communication between the communicator and the audience, as this may make the communication even more effective.

  3. Congratulations on your poster award, Rachel! Your research does a great job of exploring the ways scientific research is communicated to the public– a topic that is exceptionally relevant these days! I know this is a bit of a stretch from your topic, but do you think that changing scientific communication in some way could impact issues like vaccine hesitancy?

    1. Thank you so much! You definitely played a key role in creating this poster. I think it definitely could, scientific communication as a field definitely focuses on science such as vaccine hesitancy. In fact science that is high cost/benefit, has high uncertainty, large government influence, controversial history are called post normal science situation. There is a lot of current research of the best ways to communicate in these types of situations including the ethical implications this can have.

  4. Congratulations on your award! As a scientist and someone who has cared for hematology patients myself I would agree that infographic materials are extremely important in helping educate the reader. Most of the materials that are designed for patients & health care providers contain various forms of text and infographic tables, pie charts, and scatter plots etc. in order to enhance the subjects understanding of a certain topic. I certainly learn better in a multisensory approach!

    A few questions for you:
    -> What made you choose Zika virus as a topic?
    -> Are there different types of infographic materials and text that would be better suited for other types of science or non-science topics?
    -> Your IS is a combination of science and communication disorders: Are you planning to pursue a graduate program in communication disorders?

    1. Thank you so much!

      For your first question I choose Zika virus because I thought it would be a good case study to evaluate infographic and text based approaches. The factors of this disease having important relevance in the future to individuals in young adulthood, novel pathogenesis, potential of creating a post normal science situations, high levels of uncertainty about certain aspect of transmission and treatment, having an international impact, and pertaining to individual’s health made it a suitable disease to use as a case study to examine effective methods of science communication.

      For your next question there are definitely a range of infographic types and other cognitive tools. There is a gap in research in the scientific communication field of comparing various cognitive tools against each other, especially in a range of science fields. Some different types of tools could be animated infographics, videos, and PowerPoints. Some different types infographics are statistical, informational, comparison, process, timeline, and geographic.

      For your final question, prior to my IS I didn’t know a lot about communication and therefor communication disorders. But I have now definitely been considering a potential graduate path maybe in something of that nature.

  5. Congrats, Rachel! Truly interesting work. Do you think that your results would be consistent in an elementary school age group?

    1. Thank you so much! That’s a really great question! Exploring this research with different audiences is definitely a next step. I think given what I have read an infographic, animated tool, or video would more effectively communicate to some elementary school students. As I think it would make information easier to process for more students and hold their attention better.

  6. Congrats on all your hard work and the poster award! Do you think that young adults are drawn to infographics due to our use of social media?

    1. Thank you so much! I think it definitely could be a possible reason. It’s something I actually discuss in my discussion portion of my thesis. Some recent studies have show that younger individuals who have grown up with or use social media extensively tend to prefer infographics and visually appealing information more than older individuals without as much usage or exposure of social media.

    1. Thank you! This project would not have been possible without your guidance, advice, and support.

  7. Hi Rachel! Congratulations! I really love the design/layout of your poster, it’s so clean and engaging. It was fun to participate in your study and I learned a lot! Great work contributing to science education and literacy!

  8. Rachel, thank you so much for this important research! I’m giving a lecture soon for medical students on the use of social media in clinical practice and am now going to include a section on infographics. These are OFTEN found in social media posts, and aside from being inaccurate sometimes (or not based on research), I will highlight the results of your research on retention scores, attitudes, and behaviors. This is so impressive. Congratulations!

  9. Congratulations Rachel!! This was such an interesting topic and important implications, also I loved the poster!! Proud of you!!

  10. Great job! Your poster looks wonderful and is well-deserving of the award. Congratulations!

  11. Rachel! What an aesthetically pleasing poster! I know how hard you worked on both your project and this poster and I am so beyond proud of you! I cannot wait to see what else you accomplish in your life! Congrats, my friend!

    1. Thank you so much Mari! I wouldn’t have made it through this process and completed this project without you.

  12. What a beautiful project Rachel! What a relevant topic for today. The general population-particularly under 30 consume media much differently than our parents and grandparents, information passes by us as fast as we scroll through Instagram and Twitter. Infographics are a terrific way to communicate to a wide array of people with different backgrounds. Even within the scientific field I’ve noticed the increasing popularity of the graphical abstract.

    Your project looks to be well conceived and executed. You should be thrilled with the outcome, your poster is highly effective. I would be interested to know how many people pursue additional information after viewing infographics. It seems they are a way to pique people’s interest on important topics but learning requires a combination of different forms of media.

    1. Thank you so much Erin!! Those are some really good points. I agree, I’m also interested about how infographics may influence people seeking more information after. I did actually ask three questions in a Likert scale about wanting to seek further information and share what they learned (it isn’t reported in the above poster). I found no difference between all the groups. But I think a future study with more questions on this would be interesting to see if those results stay the same or different.

  13. Rachel, I was so excited to see the results of your fascinating study. And your poster is, in fact, wonderful! Great job!

    1. Thank you so much! Your assistance on my statistic portion was essential to my project.

  14. What an important topic! Thank you for taking on this challenging research and sharing the results with all of us. You have shared some interesting implications that can be used to inform science communications for years to come. I wonder how other fields could possibly use the implications and suggestions you’ve shared today, too? This is a critical topic and something I can tell you are passionate about! I hope you are proud of yourself! Congratulations, Rachel!! It has been a pleasure watching you succeed these past four years. I wish you all the best in your future!

    1. Thank you so much Emily! You have been such an important part of my college career. That’s a really good question. I think research into science communication can definitely apply to different fields, especially pertaining to this idea that the audience should influence how you communicate your information in order to be most effective.

  15. Hi, Rachel, Congratulations on your I.S. research and presentation. I am the mom of a COW Alum (’13), whose experience at Wooster certainly helped launch her career as a geologist at Victoria University in Wellington (New Zealand). Your topic of communicating scientific information resonated with me for that reason–she wrote her Ph.D. on New Zealand glaciers, why are they melting and how much are they melting?

    In an era where science has come under attack, your research is particularly important and timely.

    Best wishes!

    1. Thank you so much! That’s really interesting and I’d love to know more about your daughters research, it sounds fascinating.

  16. Congratulations Rachel! I am so proud of you! Your poster is amazing! I can’t wait to see what the future awaits for you! You will do great things!

  17. Hi Rachel! This is such a fascinating project. I find myself wondering about the implications for individuals over time–whether, for example, liking infographics might encourage people to then read articles, and/or to become more interested in learning more about the topic or about science generally. I know this is outside the scope of this project, but it’s great to think about possible implications for me as a teacher!! And congratulations on the well-deserved award!!!

    1. Thank you so much! That’s a really good point you raised and I think something that needs further research. I do think that maybe having a preference for the material (like individuals had for infographics in my study) could potentially encourage individuals to seek further information. I think doing a more long term study and looking at how different medias influence attitudes and behaviors of seeking further information would be really interesting and have important implications.

  18. Such an interesting topic! I really loved your presentation too. About the memory model you used, I noticed that the pictures seen in infographics can be transferred to either the virtual or verbal model. At the end of your experiment, the control group also yielded better results on all the tests. Could it be that those results were because of a better use of their working memory?

    1. Thank you so much! I think you are definitely right in this being a possible explanation. That both the control groups and infographic group allowed participants to learn through both visual and auditory channels. I think maybe the control groups did allow better use of the working memory along with presenting information twice in different formats. This presentation of information in two different styles may have allowed individuals tolerant from their preferred learning styles, which could also play a role with working memory and ability to process information.

  19. Awesome project Rachel! It is truly refreshing as an environmental scientist and chemist To see an interest in finding solutions that are environmentally friendly to the planet and yet at the same time remove unwanted pest disease causing ones. The poster clearly illustrates your work and it was exciting to review. Many congratulations and we look forward to seeing more help for the planet from you in the future. Where do you plan to take research ideas to? Professor pappy

    1. Thank you so much! That’s a good question that I’m not quite sure the answer to. This project has definitely opened my eyes to a completely different field and pathways available in science. It has definitely increased my interest in science communication and the many facets of this.

  20. Good job and congrats from a fellow Alum of B-Boys and Ballerina FYS. Well deserved award.

  21. Rachel
    Congratulations on your dedication and evolution on a science project involving lab research as you mitigated the Covid lab/academic school disruptions. It was interesting watching the project evolve and the communication skills that could be as important as the science itself. Discovery is one thing – communicating the discovery just as important. We are so proud of you!

  22. I loved how you embraced multiple learning styles and cognitive tools in order to facilitate learning and retention of scientific information. The Zika Virus is a relevant topic and I think you have done a great job of peaking your audience’s interest in your topic while presenting the use of multimedia and cognitive tools that support understanding.

    Bravo Rachel, great presentation!

  23. Rachel,
    Great job on your project. Your info graphics were well organized and easy to understand. I read the charts first and then the article. I found that after I read the article and went back to the infographics I was more comfortable with the information. This may be because I am 57 and read a lot of research articles on health. Younger people seem to absorb information so much faster and with less resistance.
    You did a good job changing the direction of your project out of necessity.

    1. Thank you so much! That’s a really good point you raise. I think this highlights the idea that audiences (including different age groups) impacts science communication, preferred forms of communication, and ultimately what’s most effective

  24. Thank you so much! That’s a really good point you raise. I think this highlights the idea that audiences (including different age groups) impacts science communication, preferred forms of communication, and ultimately what’s most effective.

  25. Congratulations Rachel! I really enjoyed taking part in your IS survey and I am glad that you gained some interesting insight on how young adults interact with science infographics. The topic of science communication is so so so important, and I just love the direction you took your IS in!

  26. Congratulations! Your project was super engaging to read about and the results were interesting!

  27. Congratulations, Rachel! This is such an important project and thank you for helping me get through gen chem!

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