1. Bradshaw, Molly J. DNP, APN, FNP-BC, WHNP-BC
  2. Porter, Sallie DNP, PhD, APN, RN-BC, CPNP

Article Content

Infographics are defined as visual translation of data and short text that has been arranged in a way that tells a story or supports a position.1 Because the majority of people, approximately 65%, are visual learners,2 most students are attracted to visual information. Educators must be savvy in their ability to select, create, and use visuals effectively.3


In today's classroom, there are additional factors that necessitate the use of visual media4: information overload, student disengagement, and use of mobile devices.5-7 In many courses, faculty have seconds to engage students and only minutes to convey important concepts. When trying to integrate use of mobile devices to facilitate learning, faculty should appreciate that information can be more compatible when it is "scrolled" or "swiped," which is facilitated with an infographic. Using infographics promotes movement to a more visual, mobile-friendly medium.


Visual information evokes emotions and creates an experience, which can provoke action. An infographic is a tickler to spark interest, convey concise information, and lead the audience to a next step or further information seeking.


Several major organizations are developing infographics as strategies for conveying large amounts of information to readers. For example, the Institute of Medicine has transcribed the Future of Nursing report to infographic format. Rather than requiring the audience to read hundreds of pages, the visual translation provides an overview of key points that can be rapidly digested while still providing the ability to follow up on the full report.2


Review of nursing literature yields sparse information regarding use of infographics in the nursing classroom. In 2008, Mixer et al8 discussed the importance of visual data translation as a means of giving an overview prior to teaching complex concepts. Their work demonstrated improved learning when students were able to see the "big picture" first. Ryan et al9 described the use of infographics as a means of alternate information presentation, but found that students still preferred PowerPoint. Other nurse educators have recommended greater use of social media in nursing courses, such as Pinterest10 or Twitter,11 but have not explicitly recommended infographics as the primary learning tool.


Developing an Infographic

To develop an infographic, one must first be a content expert. The expert then determines the audience and what information to convey.5 According to Davidson,12 effective infographics should (1) have a standout title; (2) include a storyline complete with a beginning, middle, and end; (3) obey design principles related to color, font, balance, and consistency of shapes; (4) use copyright-free images; and (5) lead the audience to additional information.


If educators are unable to find premade infographics, they can develop their own. Assuming that faculty are already subject matter experts, they can move directly into planning for use of infographics in their courses. Abilock and Williams5 have developed the Infographic Question Matrix and Infographic Design Matrix as a guideline for self-developed infographics. Who is the audience the infographic is intended for? What problem or question does it provide the answer to? What data need to be included? When the information is collected to answer these questions, the next step is infographic design. Their matrices have been adapted for nursing (Table).

Table. Design Consid... - Click to enlarge in new windowTable. Design Considerations for Nursing Infographics

Experts recommend making a sketch of the storyline, data, and layout.12 When that is completed, there are online tools such as Piktochart,, and to translate the information into a formal infographic template. Piktochart is particularly user-friendly. It has a free version, offers a discount for educators, and allows the final product to be downloaded into pdf, jpeg, png, or other embeddable files. Infographics are easily posted on Facebook, pinned on Pinterest, or shared via e-mail and traditional printing.


Infographic Example in the Classroom

The following example illustrates the process used to deliver a faculty-developed infographic in the classroom setting. Because prescribing medication is a complex concept, it was targeted as the teaching content. The World Health Organization offers a 6-step methodology as an approach to prescribing process. That information was translated into an infographic, Good Prescribing, to visually engage the students and provide an overview prior to large reading assignment (see Figure, Supplemental Digital Content 1,, and also the author's Web site at!services/cfvg). The learning objectives targeted the importance of becoming a rational prescriber and the 6 steps of the process. The purpose of the infographic format was to promote comprehension of material and inspire the student to seek more information provided in the textbook.


After determining the subject and outlining the synthesized content, a sketch was created. Piktochart was ultimately chosen because the YouTube tutorials were easily followed, the images offered in the program are copyright-free, and it allows for download into multiple formats. The final infographic was reviewed by 3 nursing faculty members for accuracy of prescribing content as well as with faculty from the school of communication for adherence to design principles. Then the infographic was embedded into a Web site, shared on Facebook, pinned on Pinterest, and printed in hard copy. Publication in multiple formats served to facilitate student access to the information with their own mobile devices or computers.


Prior to the teaching intervention, students (n = 62) were asked a series of questions about infographics. The majority of students reported that they did not know what an infographic was (n = 18, 29%), nor had they used an infographic as an educational tool (n = 53, 85.5%). After the intervention, students completed an evaluation. They provided feedback regarding adherence to the learning objectives, visual appeal of the infographic, use of it for learning, and likelihood they would seek more information regarding prescribing from their book. Students gave the infographic excellent and good ratings across all items listed on the evaluation. They reported that learning objectives were met, and they felt engaged in the learning process. Students reported that they would seek additional information on prescribing (n = 39, 84.8%).


In addition to the textbook, students were also referred to a self-directed module offering case studies, application of content, and further discussion. To date, 29% (n = 18/62) of students have completed the additional prescribing module. This was an assignment extending beyond the reading in the textbook.


Infographic Considerations

An infographic is a unique way to present synthesized information in a visual way. Effective infographics are engaging, create interest, and lead the audience to more information. Adult learning theory, a new age of mobile device utilization, and big data all support the need for nurse educators to consider infographic utilization in their teaching. In this example, the majority of student had never used an infographic for purposes of learning. However, after only a short intervention using a faculty-developed infographic, Good Prescribing, there are modest data on the teaching evaluation to suggest that information-seeking behavior was stimulated.


For faculty, there were 2 important lessons learned. First, when developing an infographic, the Infographic Question Matrix and Infographic Design Matrix were helpful during the planning process. The adaptation of their matrices for nursing infographics may help nurse educators clarify points of the design process. If one attempts to go directly to the design software without a plan or sketch, it can be overwhelming. Second, the author personally observed that the technical skill required to navigate Piktochart was similar to the technical skill required to navigate Microsoft PowerPoint. The premade templates in Piktochart minimize the artistic skill required to make decisions regarding combinations of font, color, and layout. However, for the more proficient designer, there are options to create more original works.


Students can also develop their own infographics. A well-designed infographic requires data synthesis and knowledge translation. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that this may be a preferable format of information dissemination compared with traditional scholarly abstracts.13 Infographics are mobile-friendly and have potential to reach global audiences. In the future, infographics could contribute to the dissemination requirements for doctoral nursing students.


In addition to this single prescribing lesson, the author has used infographics as an alternative format for a course syllabus. The Future of Nursing infographic was used as discussion item in class to highlight key points prior to giving a quiz on the topic. In the clinical setting, infographics developed by key organizations, such as the American Heart Association, are being used by the author to facilitate patient education at appropriate levels for health literacy. The potential use of infographics in both nursing practice and nursing education is promising. An infographic gallery displaying infographics created by this author is available for viewing at!gallery/cghg.



Nurse educators should understand the infographic fundamentals to be able to develop them for teaching. Infographics are means of providing synthesized visual data sets that are compatible with mobile device and consistent with the learning preferences of current nursing students. In the future, nurse educators may find applications for infographics beyond the classroom as a final product of learning or for use in patient education.



The authors thank Margaret Dreker, George Smith Library, Rutgers University, for assistance with and dedication to this project.




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