The effect of infographics on recall of information about genetically modified foods
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Agricultural literacy levels are decreasing during a time of great technological growth in the agriculture industry. Many complex ideas, such as genetically modified foods, are gaining public interest while leading to confusion. The role of agricultural literacy campaigns is to be an educational source for those seeking truthful information about such subjects. Although multiple campaigns exist, society as a whole seems to be struggling with grasping topics like genetic modification. When trying to learn such subjects, a leaner’s cognitive resources can be overwhelmed, thus hindering the learning process. The inclusion of visual aids can prevent this from occurring. The purpose of this research was to perform an experiment that tested the use of infographics to communicate the dense topic of genetic modification, in hopes of increasing the amount of information viewers can retain and recall by decreasing the cognitive effort on behalf of viewers. To explore this, 61 undergraduate students were exposed to one of two randomly assigned stimuli. Both stimuli contained the same information about genetically modified foods, but one was presented in the form of an infographic, while the other was a purely textual narrative. Participants were tested in a variety of ways on their ability to recall information. Thirty-four of these participants took part in a delayed survey a week after stimuli exposure to again test recall and retention of the information they viewed. No significant difference was found in retention and recall rates when using an infographic versus a narrative to communicate a complex topic, but the participants exposed to the infographic had similar or slightly higher recall scores than those who viewed the narrative. Therefore, this study supports the use of infographics as educational materials that can in fact be used in place of traditional curriculum methods. This study also contains many implications for future research in the area of visual communications in agricultural literacy.