Proceedings of The Physiological Society

Europhysiology 2018 (London, UK) (2018) Proc Physiol Soc 41, C121

Oral Communications

Enhancing engagement with physiology using infographic presentations.

D. A. Scott1, A. M. Jenkinson1

1. School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom.

Poster presentations to communicate scientific knowledge and understanding are a commonly used assessment tool within undergraduate programmes. However, it is a challenge for students to deliver clear and detailed information whilst minimising volume of text on the poster. Infographics are progressively being used to demonstrate key scientific concepts in simple graphical form and developing students to effectively communicate with both a scientific audience and the general public is increasingly important within an academic curriculum. To enhance communication skills and also student engagement in this process we adapted an existing physiology research project assessment and increased the emphasis on public communication skills with the use of Infographics. Students were asked to undertake a 11 week project on a physiological topic of their choice and present it in an infographic format online on a dedicated Twitter feed and also present the same work in a more traditional printed poster session. Staff and peers graded the infographics at the poster session. In addition, students had to submit an abstract reporting their findings, and the abstract had to be formatted as if they were submitting it to a Physiological Society meeting. Students could explore any area of physiology they wanted to as long as they were excited about the topic, and they could communicate the important messages or concepts involved in their project clearly and concisely. A range of free software/websites that could be used to produce infographics were demonstrated, and students could choose whichever one they felt was most suitable for them. Examples of infographics that summarised and communicated complex biomedical concepts or information were also made available to the class. Students were invited to complete an anonymous questionnaire on the delivery and outcomes of the exercise. This considered how easy it was to simplify the scientific material and how infographic presentation compared with a standard scientific poster. Comparison between online and printed delivery was also evaluated along with the impact on the overall learning experience. Students rated various aspects of the project on Likert scales from 0-10. Forty-six student completed the questionnaire, with the vast majority preferring online infographic posters rather than printed ones. Other findings included that students felt that infographics could communicate complex scientific concepts more effectively than traditional scientific posters. Students found the science easier than trying to pitch the content at the correct level for the audience,. They appeared to give more thought as to how information should be presented and delivered to different audiences, and became more critical of their own work. This pilot initiative has been a success in revitalising a physiology project assignment, whilst teaching particpants new skills and helping them further develop a range of graduate attributes.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements