Oklahoma State University, ENGL 1213: Composition II–Infographic Portfolio

Below appears an authoritative version of the guidelines for the Infographic Portfolio assignment (Infog), superseding any previously published information regarding the Infog.


The First-Year Composition Program at Oklahoma State University describes the Infog as enabling students to “Research their topic and describe, summarize, and visually represent various points of view on the topic”; “Identify, analyze, and describe the rhetorical purpose of various types of infographics”; “Draft an infographic by hand and then use that draft to design a digital version using software”; “Reflect upon and describe the rhetorical moves made in their infographic”; and “[Research] and evaluate sources for varying contexts, including but not limited to the scholarly researched argument.” Doing so will take the form of two individual exercises, per Program standards: a 500-word (approximate) statement of goals and purposes and an infographic in raw and finished form. The two are weighted unevenly, with the statement comprising 15% of the assignment score and the two-version infographic comprising the remaining 85%. The weight-adjusted combination of the two scores will be entered as the grade for the Infog.

Students in Prof. Elliott’s sections of ENGL 1213 in the Spring 2016 instructional term at Oklahoma State University will need to perform several tasks to successfully complete the exercise/s:

Information about each follows, along with a copy of the relevant grading rubric and notes.

Clarify the Focal Question to Address

Because experience demonstrates that linking assignments together aids their completion and improves their quality, the Infog in Prof. Elliott’s classes will focus on much the same topic as was addressed in the earlier T&S and as will be addressed in the forthcoming SOQ. That is, the Infog will continue to focus on curricular issues relevant to the student composing it. Specifically, it will work to address questions about prevailing tendencies in the student’s field of study.

To explain: The T&S presented questions about one particular aspect of a student’s current or anticipated course of study. The SOQ will ultimately work to answer one of those questions. That answer will benefit from having context in which to exist, and the Infog will treat at least part of that context. That is, the Infog will address the question of what the general tendency regarding the student’s topic is. It will answer the question of “What do treatments of the subject generally look like?” Individual students will need to refine the question to their specific projects, looking at how courses of study generally approach their specific subjects of inquiry or those things that are most nearly akin thereto.

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Gather and Analyze Primary Sources

To answer the focal question, students will need to assemble a number of sources. Since the focal question should look into common treatments of the students’ subjects, those sources should be published curricula and course descriptions. That is, students should look at programs similar to their own at other institutions (no fewer than six, per Program dicta) and examine how those programs treat their subject or something similar. For one example, a student looking at why X State University’s undergraduate English major requires enrolled students to take an introductory graphic design course would need to look at English degree requirements at schools similar to X State University, scanning specifically for introductory graphic design or similar courses. Attention might also be paid to other out-of-discipline course requirements.

Information from the other curricula should be collated and distilled. Replication of the entirety of a stated curriculum is not likely to be helpful to readers; determination of overall tendencies will be. Accordingly, the information in the other curricula will need to be sorted and, for the purposes of the infographic, rendered numerically for ease of interpretation.

It will be helpful for students to keep notes about how they go about finding the statements of curricula they employ (something analogous to the reading log discussed as part of the StratRdg prewriting activities). The information is likely to be of use later in the project.

An analog to the process students will need to carry out can be found in the ENGL 1113: Composition I Evaluation Essay as taught in the Fall 2015 term at Oklahoma State University. Information about it is available here: https://elliottrwi.com/instruction/osu/oklahoma-state-university-engl-1113-composition-i/oklahoma-state-university-engl-1113-composition-i-evaluation/. (The section labeled “Develop Criteria for Inclusion in the (Sub-) Genre” is the most relevant.)

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Identify Specific Goals for the Infographic

After gathering and processing information from other curricula, students need to consider what they want to do with it. Information is not neutral; it is of no moment unless acted upon in an interpretive act, and how the interpretation is presented can do much to aid—or hinder—its reception and acceptance by the audiences that encounter it. Accordingly, students need to consider their overall purposes, reflecting on what it is they hope to have their infographics do (other than the obvious “get me a good grade in the class”). A series of questions might help to focus students’ thinking on the matter:

  • How complex is the response to that treatment?
  • How complicated is the subject being treated?
  • Is it something to recommend? To condemn?
  • Is the subject a positive or negative thing?
  • What are the best ways to convey that information quickly?
  • What should the infographic convey about its composer?
  • What should the infographic convey about the subject?
  • What type of information does the infographic need to present?
  • Who will benefit from having the information? What do they expect? What do they like? What do they dislike?
  • With what colors and images is it associated?

The questions are not meant to restrict answers, but to stimulate thinking. Any, all, or none may be answered in an individual student’s work.

Having a list of such purposes will be of benefit not only in drafting the infographic, but later on in the assignment, as well. The kind of thinking that goes into developing such a list is also broadly applicable to any productive or creative endeavor.

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Lay out and Compile Initial Sketches of the Infographic

With information and goals for the infographic in mind, drafting it becomes the task to accomplish. A series of sketches is recommended, annotating the desired dimensions of the infographic, laying out information to be presented and placing it appropriately, determining color palettes and iconographic schema to apply, considering typeface choices, and the like. Class lectures will attend to such concerns, and the series of sketches that students produce should work from the broad and general to the specific and deliberate—all acknowledging that the work is in progress and provisional, as well as later to be converted to digital format.

Individual methods may vary, but grid paper and tracing paper seem useful materials to have at hand during the process. Pencils also seem to be preferred to inks, at least in earlier versions.

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Compose the Infog PV

After completing the tasks above, which collectively constitute a sequence of prewriting, each student should independently draft a two-part paper, which will be brought to class in printed hard copy as the Infog PV. The two parts, statement of goals and purposes and raw-form infographic, are described below, and expectations for them explicated.

To be noted for both components is the audience to be addressed. Infographics are generally drafted to be presented to broad public audiences, non-specialists who may have only a passing interest in the topic being treated. For the Infog, the primary audience whose needs are to be met consists of instructors of ENGL 1213. The secondary audience to keep in mind consists of the broad, general public; assume a completion of high school but no attendance at college as yet, as well as a middle-class multiethnic background.

Statement of Goals and Purposes

Per Program dicta, the statement of goals and purposes should be a short paper, approximately 500 words, in which students demonstrate having reflected on their choices of sources and methods in composing the infographic. This can be done reasonably easily; a three-paragraph structure suggests itself:

  • One paragraph could explain what the subject of inquiry is, situating it in its appropriate context.
  • Another could explain the rationale for selecting the sources used, explaining the rubric for determining what programs to examine.
  • A third could explain the significance of the choices made in the infographic itself. Such things as document dimensions, typeface, color choice, image form and style, and citation choice all influence how the information presented will be accepted; all need to be deliberate decisions made by the composer.

Other organizational patterns could be deployed that address all the required points, of course, although that laid out above has the advantage of being clear, evident, and systematic.

Raw-form Infographic

Per Program dicta, the raw form of the infographic moves towards students “tell[ing] a story about [their] research topic[s] using a variety of modes, including—but not limited to—words, image, color, and number.” Like the statement of goals and purposes, the raw-form infographic should be easy to do; it is, in essence, a colored drawing with spaces for words and shapes blocked out, perhaps with the shapes and colors detailed and addenda indicating the words that go in various places.

Even in its raw form, the infographic needs to adhere to design principles articulated and discussed during class time (alignment, balance, consistency, contrast, and grouping), as well as in a number of supplemental sources, indicated below:

Other sources are, without doubt, available; consultation with them is likely to be helpful.

Submission Expectations

The Infog PV is due in print (as a typed and hand-drawn, stapled copy) at the beginning of class on 7 March 2016. It should be presented as a single document composed of the statement of goals and purposes and raw-form infographic, in that order, and it should be at least the minimum acceptable length for the final submission (500 words, +/- 25, for the statement, one or more hand-drawn preliminary versions of the infographic, plus a four-line heading—student name, instructor name, course and section, date of composition—and title).

The text of the statement of goals and purposes for the Infog PV should be double-spaced on letter-size sheets with one-inch margins on all sides. It should be in 12-point Times New Roman, Garamond, or Georgia type. Page numbers should appear in the upper right corner of the page, with the student’s surname preceding the number; page numbers and surnames should be in the same typeface as the rest of the document. The four-line heading should be left-aligned, the title centered horizontally; both should be in the same typeface as the rest of the document. The primary text should be left-aligned; formatting of the raw-form infographic needs to be easily read and taken in, adherent to the principles of design articulated in assigned readings and during class discussion.

A quiz grade will be taken from the presence and quality of the Infog PV during class on the due date. The grade will be largely holistic in nature, with more complete and on-target student work receiving higher grades. Students who arrive in class without drafts will receive a zero for the minor assignment grade, as will those who fail to attend class that day (excepting those covered under class attendance policies expressed in the syllabus and detailed during class discussions). Detailed reading will not be conducted by the instructor at that point, although comments regarding overall adherence to assignment standards may well be made.

Students should keep in mind that the Infog PV is a work in progress. A more complete draft is more desirable than a less complete one, largely in that it eases the later work that must be done and offers more opportunity for concrete improvement to the composition that is done. Please note that the materials composed for the Infog PV may well need to change; keep in mind that they cannot get better without changing, and that all creative work can be improved.

Students are encouraged to consult with the instructor and with tutors in the Writing Center during the process of composing the Infog PV. No extra credit will be afforded to the project for doing so, but doing so is likely to improve the grade received and will likely be considered positively in the Prof score awarded at the end of the term.

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Revise the Infog PV into the Infog RV

Following the in-class workshopping of the Infog PV, students are strongly encouraged to revise their papers in light of the comments made by peer reviewer/s. They should work from global issues—whether the statement of goals and purposes presents all information requested, whether the information on the infographic is accurate, and whether it is presented accessibly and effectively—to more local issues—such as how best to transition between each major part, how to transition from paragraph to paragraph and sentence to sentence, and how best to phrase for concision and emphasis. Only after all of that is done should there be any thought of checking and amending as appropriate the surface-level features of formatting, spelling, punctuation, and the like.

The paper resulting from the process of revision, the Infog RV, should still open with a statement of goals and purposes that identifies the subject and situates it in context, indicates sourcing methods, and explains design choices. The Infog RV should follow with a clear, digital version of the revised raw-form infographic that presents its information accurately and accessibly. Information and materials to assist with the processes of digital rendering are available at the following URLs, provided in Program dicta:

The Infog RV is due via D2L before the beginning of class time on 11 March 2016. It must be submitted in .doc, .docx, or .rtf format. (No other file types will be accepted; submissions in another file type will be treated as though not submitted.) It should be presented as a single document consisting of multiple sections: the statement of goals and purposes, a scanned-in version of the raw-form infographic, and an improved digital-original version of the infographic.

  • The text of the statement should be presented according to the standards expressed for the Infog PV, and it should be within the acceptable length indicated (500 words, +/- 25, for the statement, one or more hand-drawn preliminary versions of the infographic, plus a four-line heading—student name, instructor name, course and section, date of composition—and title).
  • The digitized raw-form infographic should be scanned into an image file (preferably .jpg format) and inserted into the .doc, .docx, or .rtf file submitted; page sizing, margins, and numbers should proceed from the statement text.
  • The digital-original version of the infographic should also be inserted as an image file into the .doc, .docx, or .rtf file submitted. Page numbers and margins should proceed from the digitized raw-form infographic; page size should be the smallest standard sized page that allows the infographic to be read clearly and easily.

Usage throughout should conform to standards promulgated by the MLA and discussed during class time.

The Infog RV will be assessed via the grading rubric below as a minor assignment according to the rubric below. The text and comments made about it will be returned to students via the email function on D2L. Those comments should be used to improve the text further in advance of its final submission; the Infog RV is a work in progress, although one nearing completion.

Students are encouraged to consult with the instructor and with tutors in the Writing Center during the process of composing the Infog RV. No extra credit will be afforded to the project for doing so, but doing so is likely to improve the grade received and will likely be considered positively in the Prof score awarded at the end of the term.

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Revise the Infog RV into the Infog FV

Following the return of instructor comments on the Infog RV, students are strongly encouraged to revise their papers in light of the comments. They should work from global issues— whether the statement of goals and purposes presents all information requested, whether the information on the infographic is accurate, and whether it is presented accessibly and effectively —to more local issues—such as how best to transition between each major part, how to transition from paragraph to paragraph and sentence to sentence, and how best to phrase for concision and emphasis. Only after all of that is done should there be any thought of checking and amending as appropriate the surface-level features of formatting, spelling, punctuation, and the like.

The paper resulting from the process of revision, the Infog FV, should still open with a statement of goals and purposes that identifies the subject and situates it in context, indicates sourcing methods, and explains design choices. The Infog RV should follow with a clear, digital version of the revised raw-form infographic that presents its information accurately and accessibly.

The Infog FV is due via D2L before the beginning of class time on 25 March 2016. It must be submitted in .doc, .docx, or .rtf format. (No other file types will be accepted; submissions in another file type will be treated as though not submitted.) The text should be presented as a single document consisting of multiple sections: the statement of goals and purposes, a scanned-in version of the raw-form infographic, and a further-improved digital-original version of the infographic.

  • The text of the statement should be presented according to the standards expressed for the Infog PV, and it should be within the acceptable length indicated (500 words, +/- 25, for the statement, one or more hand-drawn preliminary versions of the infographic, plus a four-line heading—student name, instructor name, course and section, date of composition—and title).
  • The digitized raw-form infographic should be scanned into an image file (preferably .jpg format) and inserted into the .doc, .docx, or .rtf file submitted; page sizing, margins, and numbers should proceed from the statement text.
  • The improved version of the infographic should also be inserted as an image file into the .doc, .docx, or .rtf file submitted. Page numbers and margins should proceed from the digitized raw-form infographic; page size should be the smallest standard sized page that allows the infographic to be read clearly and easily.

Usage throughout should conform to standards promulgated by the MLA and discussed during class time.

The Infog FV will be assessed via the grading rubric below as a major assignment, worth 20% of the total course grade. The text and comments made about it will be returned to students via the email function on D2L. Those comments should be used to stimulate still better performance on future writing; comments on the Infog should help with that writing.

Students are encouraged to consult with the instructor and with tutors in the Writing Center during the process of composing the Infog FV. No extra credit will be afforded to the project for doing so, but doing so is likely to improve the grade received and will likely be considered positively in the Prof score awarded at the end of the term.

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Grading Rubric

A copy of the grading rubric that will be applied to the Infog RV and Infog FV can be found at the following link: G. Elliott Spring 2016 ENGL 1213 Infog Grading Rubric.

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Notes

A sample of the kind of work students are asked to do is available: “Sample Infographic Portfolio Assignment: Context to Answer a Question about the Comprehensive Exams for UL Lafayette PhD Students in English.”

Students whose curricula will ask them to take ENGL 3323: Technical Writing at Oklahoma State University, or something similar thereto, will find the practice in visual rhetoric offered by the Infog useful. Incorporation of images into documents is a key component of that class, as well as of the kind of work for which that class serves as training and practice.

Infographics are typically associated with online work, and online presentation has its own conventions for citation. This is not the same thing as not citing; although the form is different, the need to account for data is no less present. Failure to do so appropriately (per conventions of the genre) may be treated as an academic integrity violation.

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Geoffrey B. Elliott
1 March 2016

Edited to include a link to an example of the assignment.

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