#BPDNOLA17 – Visualizing Data: Infographic Assignments across the Social Work Curriculum

Today is the third day (Friday, March 3rd) of #BPDNOLA17, and I am presenting with some of my favorite #swtech peeps, Dr. Nathalie Jones of Tarleton State University and Dr. Melanie Sage of the University of North Dakota, at 1:45pm in Bayside C at the Sheraton in New Orleans.  We will be talking about an infographic assignment that we jointly developed and implemented with students at each of our campuses. The use of infographics for classroom assignments is becoming commonplace in higher education, although less is known about its use in social work education. Our workshop will review how we collaborated to develop, implement and evaluate an infographic assignment for courses across the social work curriculum.

Here is a link to the slides from our presentation: https://www.slideshare.net/laurelhitchcock/visualizing-data-infographic-assignments-across-the-social-work-curriculum

For some background, please see Nathalie’s recent blog post about how she first developed her infographic assignment.

We also created tutorial videos for our students:

Here is our abstract with the learning objectives:

By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  1. Recognize how infographic tools can be incorporated into assignments for social work courses.
  2. Understand how the use of social media as a teaching tool in undergraduate courses can be used to develop and assess social work competencies.
  3. Appreciate the role of collaboration to support the development and implementation of technology-based assignments in social work education.

According to the theory of experiential learning (Kolb, 1984), ideal learning happens in contexts that offer concrete experiences and active experimentation alongside abstract and reflective learning. Bloom’s Taxonomy (1994) suggests that higher-order thinking skills include creating, designing, and producing information, whereas classroom assignments often reinforce lower-level thinking such as interpreting, explaining, and comparing. Higher-order learning assignments would include situations in which students can experiment with product generation for real-world situations, reflect on the relationship between theory and practice, and receive specific feedback about their efforts.  Social work educators can create these situations by incorporating social and digital media into their classroom.  Technologies such as Twitter, blogging, and podcasting make it possible for student to develop academic assignments that will be consumed by a public audience. The prospect of public consumption forces students to consider their audience, the skills they need, and the impact of their work outside of the professor and classroom. Inviting the outside into the classroom also provides an invaluable opportunity to engage in the practice community and receive feedback from multiple sources. For example, social work educators have brought classroom discussions of policy and practice into the public domain through the use of social media (Young, 2014; Hitchcock & Battista, 2013).

The use of infographics as a classroom assignment is used in higher education (Dyjur & Li, 2015; Kos, & Sims, 2014; Martix, & Hodson, 2014), although less is known about its use in social work education.  Infographics are digital tools that include images and text that communicate and share information (Joosten, 2012).  Infographics allow for quick sharing and/or transfer of knowledge through various social media platforms to reach a large audience.  For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention frequently use infographics to communicate information about vaccines, health disparities data, and prevention practices (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, n.d.).  The use of infographics in social work education can engage students in the real-world application. Also, students have the opportunity to discover and evaluate information related to important social problems and social work practice in new and very public ways.

This workshop will review how three social work educators collaborated to develop, implement and evaluate an infographic assignment across the social work curriculum.  This workshop will provide a view into teaching infographics in social work education from preparation to the final reflective assignment. The assignment engages students in discussions about privacy, public image, professional communication skills, assessing open-source information, and using social media to demonstrate competency and integrity in social work practice. These competencies align with the educational policy and accreditation standards set forth by CSWE (2015). Examples of student infographics will be shared to illustrate outcomes and assignment flexibility. Participants will be able to review findings from a survey evaluation distributed to elicit student feedback, as well as student impressions of the use of infographics as a professional tool. The presentation will conclude with a discussion on lessons learned and future directions.


Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. (n.d.). Infographics. Retrieved May 21, 2016, from             http://www.cdc.gov/socialmedia/tools/infographics.html

Council on Social Work Education. (2015).   Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards. Washington, DC: Author.

Dyjur, P., & Li, L. (2015). Learning 21st Century Skills by Engaging in an Infographics Assessment. In Proceedings of the IDEAS: Designing Responsive Pedagogy (pp. 62–71). University of Calgary. Retrieved from http://dspace.ucalgary.ca/bitstream/1880/50860/1/7%20Learning%2021st%20-%20Dyjur%20%26%20Li.pdf

Joosten, T. (2012). Social media for educators: strategies and best practices. San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass.

Hitchcock, L. I., & Battista, A. (2013). Social Media for Professional Practice: Integrating Twitter with Social Work Pedagogy. The Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work, 18(special   issue), 33-45.

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development (1 edition). Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice Hall.

Kos, B. A., & Sims, E. (2014). Infographics: The New 5-Paragraph Essay. In 2014 Rocky Mountain Celebration of Women in Computing. Laramie, WY, USA. Retrieved from http://scholar.colorado.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=atlas_gradpapers

Martix, S., & Hodson, J. (2014). Teaching with infographics: practicing new digital competencies and visual literacies. Journal of pedagogic development, 4 (2). Retrieved from: http://www.beds.ac.uk/jpd/volume-4-issue-2/teaching-with-infographics

Young, J. (2014). iPolicy: Exploring and Evaluating the use of iPads in a Social Welfare Policy     Course. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 32(1-2), 39-53.

How to Cite:

Hitchcock, L., Jones, N., & Sage, M. (2017). #BPDNOLA17 – Visualizing Data: Infographic Assignments across the Social Work Curriculum. Retrieved from: http://www.laureliversonhitchcock.org/2017/02/24/bpdnola17infographics/

Author: Laurel Hitchcock

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