Select a poster or pamphlet from your site that conveys information about disease prevention or treatment. Analyze the ways in which the artifact conveys information and (if applicable) makes an argument.


- Students will be able to analyze visual and written health education material in relation to narrative, intended audience, and social context/ideology.

- Students will be able to assess the strengths and limitations of the way health information is conveyed in educational posters and pamphlets.


Any shadowing site with printed material (brochures, posters, etc).

Recommended Preparatory Reading:

Martin Gorsky, Krzysztof Krajewski-Siuda, Wojciech Dutka, Virginia Berridge. "Anti-Alcohol Posters in Poland, 1945-1989: Diverse Meanings, Uncertain Effects" American Journal of Public Health 100, no. 11 (2010), 2059-2069.  

Time Commitment: 

About half an hour.

Appropriate For: 

advanced undergraduate students; undergraduate medical students; graduate students in the health professions.

Activity Description:

Arrive at your shadowing site. Locate informational posters or pamphlets. If you decide to analyze a pamphlet, and they are freely available, take one. If you decide to analyze a poster, snap a picture of it so that you will be able to reference it later.

When you have time, take notes analyzing the artifact according to the following levels/steps:

1) Literal analysis: What is depicted (individuals, families, organs, etc)? What components make up the image? What colors are used? How is text arranged on the page(s)?

2) Narrative analysis: What basic story is the artifact telling (if any)? 

3) Intended meaning analysis: Who is the intended audience for the artifact? What information is the audience supposed to glean from the artifact? What argument is the artifact making to them?

4) Ideological meaning analysis: What assumptions does the artifact make about moral values or the organization of society?

5) Oppositional meaning analysis (optional): What are the ways in which the artifact could be "misread" or misunderstood? What are some alternative ways to interpret the artifact?

6) Evaluative analysis: Now that you've closely analyzed this educational material, what does your analysis tell us about broader issues in the fields of medicine or public health? 

Drawing on notes from this analysis activity and your additional experiences during this shadowing site visit, write a blog post or short reflection essay.


Image: Works Progress Administration Poster, 1941 (