Protect Your Child Against Influenza

In order to disseminate important information, public and private sectors, businesses, schools, clubs, and organizations use educational materials and handouts. These take important part in reaching other people and letting your program known. However, there is an important key to making an effective handout/pamphlet/flyer. It should be, first and foremost, understandable by your target population. Because of this, a literacy assessment is used to determine whether an educational material is understandable and effective.

As of present, there had been a number of ways developed to determine the educational level needed to fully understand a given text. Albeit all are tested, there are specific literacy assessment formulae that are appropriate for certain materials e. g. health educational materials, short pamphlets, and handouts with longer texts. It is important to note, though, that these techniques differ only in the process and in scope, but will determine the same thing: the material’s readability. Pamphlet: Protect your child against influenza. Influenza poses a very serious threat to the community.

Often taken for granted, people shrug it off as a common cold and bypass preventive measures. As a result, hospitalizations due to influenza have risen exponentially and have become a serious problem among households. In order to help educate parents on the threat of influenza, a pamphlet was made concerning this matter by the American Lung Association and handed out at the Day Care Center. It calls for parents to be proactive in avoiding the influenza virus. The literacy assessment used for this pamphlet is the SMOG (Simple Measure Of Gobbledygook) formula.

This formula is very widely used for short educational materials in health and medicine, so it is just appropriate for this type of material. Aside from that, this readability assessment is a simple and tested method of determining a text’s grade-level understandability. In order to determine the pamphlet’s literacy, we take a total of 30 sentences from key parts of the text: the beginning, the middle, and the end part of the whole pamphlet. From these ten sentences per part, we count the number of polysyllabic words, words that have three or more syllables.

As stated in the SMOG guide, numbers are to be read like they are words, hyphenated words are to be considered one word, and proper nouns, if polysyllabic, should be counted as one. According to the derived conversion table, the educational level needed to understand this pamphlet is 12th grade, or high school diploma. Upon research I have also derived this grade level from the original formula by G. H. McLaughlin, publisher of the SMOG test. From the total polysyllabic words of these sentences (76), we get the root of the nearest square which is 81 (9) and add a constant 3.

Since this material addresses parents, the pamphlet’s literacy is just right for the target population. Parenthood comes (mostly) after high school and so most, if not all, parents would understand the text. Moreover, since the pamphlet only requires high school literacy to be understood, even students would be able to understand and are therefore encouraged to be responsible in the fight against influenza. This in itself increases the material’s population scope and, therefore, its effectiveness. In addition, the presentation of the material compliments its grade-level readability.

With just the right amount, the material uses the right color motif to highlight the text, and the right mixture to distinguish it when placed among other pamphlets. The attractive color combination and family-oriented graphics calls attention from even a child which is effective because the pamphlet is distributed from the Day Car Center; while the text style and size allows easy readability to busy parents. The interrogative sentences also add to the easy readability because it gives an outline of what the pamphlet is about, making it easier for parents to browse through the material.

Overall, aside from the occasional long sentences, the material is presented and written accordingly. The word “influenza” which is a polysyllable, is the most common word in the text, and therefore is the bigger portion of the total number of polysyllabic words. Conclusion: Having an educational—or any—material readable to a target population is essential in disseminating information. It ensures understanding and, in most cases, retention of the subject. However, it is not just the content of the material that is important for readability. One should also pay attention to the layout, color schemes, graphics, and even font styles and sizes.

All these factors not only add up to the readability of the material but also attract attention. These are the frontlines of a material’s effectiveness. Being able to get the attention of the population ensures thorough reading of the material. Only after that is the importance of the content’s understandability. For educational materials such as this health pamphlet, I say it would be better to set the grade-level readability to a minimum. Since educating the public is the main concern, it is imperative that the material should be understood by majority of the population.

This ensures wide reading as well as decreases the need for informing the uneducated. All in all, the important thing to consider in making an educational handout is a guarantee for attention and a wide range of readability.

Reference: US. Dept of Health and Human Services. 1992. Making Health Communication Programs Work, A Planner’s Guide. G. Harry McLaughlin. 1969. SMOG Grading —– a New Readability Formula. Journal of Reading, May. http://www. harrymclaughlin. com/SMOG_Readability_Formula_G. _Harry_McLaughlin_(1969). pdf

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