An assignment based on data driven journalism: a case study

Vanessa Simonite


In a module designed to develop skills in presenting and evaluating statistics, students of mathematics and statistics were given an assignment asking them to research and write a piece of data driven journalism. Data driven journalism is a new phenomenon which has expanded rapidly due to the growth in open data, new visualisation tools and online reporting in newspapers, periodicals and blogs. The assignment provided students with a writing assignment that was individual, small-scale, research-based and embedded within their discipline.

The students were asked to formulate a research question that could be investigated using survey data available from an electronic data archive. The result of the investigation was to be written up as a piece of data driven journalism for online publication, including a data visualisation. In addition to using discipline-based skills and written communication, the assignment required students to use research skills and digital literacy.

An assignment set in the context of writing for the public extends studentsââ¬â¢ writing experience beyond the domains of discipline-based professional reports and academic writing. Data driven journalism provides opportunities to develop studentsââ¬â¢ writing alongside other skills for employment and can be used to design assessments for a wide range of disciplines.


data driven journalism; data visualisation; graduate attributes; assessment

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ISSN: 1759-667X