Infographics as Critical Thinking Assignments

I'm getting ready for a new semester to start next week and revising a few of my assignments. Several colleagues have asked about my infographic assignment, so I've posted last term's prompt and a few examples of student work from the last year or so in the Library. I still tweak the assignment based on issues I have in each class, and the examples are not perfect -- students are still learning how to collect and present evidence, and how to cite their sources -- but these illustrate their good, creative work and the fun they have doing this assignment.

My students are those who come to DC to do internships for academic credit, but they also take at least one course. The required courses are writing-intensive courses, something that most of them don't get on campus regularly due to the size of their classes. It's a great opportunity for them to do evidence-based research papers and other assignments that promote the development of critical thinking and empirical research skills.

Those who take my class write research papers on topics of their choosing related to the work they do in their internships. I want them to be thinking about and synthesizing the work they do at their "day jobs" with the work they do in class. Bringing theory to practice, and vice versa is important.

But after teaching for a couple terms here, I realized that I wanted them to think in different ways and develop various skills that will help them post-graduation. So I tried the infographic assignment. It's still a work in progress, but it gets rave reviews from students. They don't always like the additional work as they're finishing up long and difficult research projects, but it gives them something different to think about and exercises a different part of their brain as they continue to develop their research and presentation skills. And, importantly, they develop a new, very practical skill that they can add to their resumes. Not only do they learn to use new software, but they have a PDF of their work that they can print in color for a portfolio. For those who want to use them professionally, I edit and continue to give them access to the software until they have a product with which they're happy.

One technical note: I use Venngage and have been very happy with their product. I purchase a year subscription for about $100 for about 35 students at a time; I switch out the students each term. The paid version allows students to download their work as PDFs so that they can have hard copies and I can print them in color for them. I've been happy with their support team as well. There are other products that may be just as good if not better, but I'm familiar with Venngage and it's affordable so am sticking with it.

I appreciate constructive feedback, and would love to hear how (your version of) the assignment works for you if you do implement it in your class. Have fun!