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 students’ writing experience beyond the domains of discipline-based professional reports and academic writing. Data driven journalism provides opportunities to develop students’ 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