Alternative assessment idea: the infographic

Help students tap into their creative side for giving alternative assessments in online classes.

Andrew Morrison

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Infographic explaining how to apply Hooke’s Law

This semester in an effort to make my general education physics class have assessments that are slightly-less googleable, I have decided to ask all my students to convert the problems that I am asking them on the assessments into graphical formats such as a comic strip or infographic.

The above figure is my attempt to show an example of what they might do for answering the following question:

A fairly stiff spring has a 2 kg mass hanging from it, and is displaced from its unstretched length. Another 2 kg is added to it and it stretches an additional 25 cm.

What is the spring constant, k? (Give units!)

I started making the infographic using Canva.com. I have signed up for the free account and have used it in the past to make a sign or two to hang in classrooms or on my office door.

The trickiest part of making the infographic was drawing the springs. But like almost everything you want to do in life today, there is a YouTube tutorial for how to draw springs:

I watched the first part of the video enough to get the idea, then I switched over to PowerPoint and replicated the process there. I tried doing just the hanging masses and springs in PowerPoint and then adding the lines and equations in Canva, but there were limitations to the arrows and lines in Canva that I didn’t like.

Eventually, I ended up with this illustration in PowerPoint:

All of this graphic was done in PowerPoint!

I knew that the math wouldn’t look great unless I did it outside of Canva, so I also did the following in PowerPoint:

Equations for applying Hooke’s law to the example problem.
Also done in PowerPoint!

From that point on, it was just a matter of adding the title, the text boxes and a few arrows in Canva.

I’m not a graphical designer by any stretch of anyone’s imagination, but I’m really pleased with how well this turned out for my first try at doing this. I posted this as an example for students in the class. Hopefully, they see it and get some inspiration for upcoming assessments in the class!

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Andrew Morrison

Physics professor with research interest in musical acoustics