Student Name: Rachel Greer
Advisor: Dr. Laura Sirot, Dr. Ferdinand Nanfack Minkeu
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.
Rachel will be online to field comments on April 16: 4-6 pm EDT (PST 1pm-3pm, Africa/Europe: late evening).