Students from schools across London engaged in the CLS Summer Course: “Harnessing the power of longitudinal research for policy impact” for 7 weeks in June and July.
Here, the students reflect on their experience on the course, the new social science research skills they developed and their journey to creating infographics and presenting their work.
Why were you interested in engaging in the summer course?
When I first heard about the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) summer course I knew immediately I had to apply. When I was accepted, I was extremely excited to participate. I knew I would be learning about how longitudinal studies, specifically the different cohorts held as CLS, but I was excited to learn how they have produced real impacts and influenced various policies. But that wasn’t the only reason I wanted to be involved in the summer school. The prospect of learning new things, creating an infographic, and developing my presentation skills, as well as the visit to parliament on the final session, was what drew me to this course. I absolutely loved participating in the summer school and was amazed about how many new skills I have learned that I hope to put to use in the future.
How was your experience of creating an infographic?
Creating an infographic as part of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) summer school was an eye-opening experience. Infographics are a method used within many research projects to help present your data visually and to engage different audiences in your work. This includes audience members who may not be an expert in the subject area. Therefore, a priority when creating infographics is that they are visually eye-catching and easy to understand.
The data used for my infographic included measures from longitudinal studies. It was likely the audiences who would view my infographic may not have the context or knowledge to completely understand the data. Hence, a priority for me was to simplify and visualise the data, through use of various icons and figures instead. This included simplifying complicated graphs as presented in the original research, therefore clearly showing different trends in adolescent mental health between the UK and Australia. Ultimately, the new graphs helped emphasise the key findings of my infographic.
The reason I found the experience of creating an infographic “eye opening” is that it showed me another angle to presentations. It made me consider that my audiences may have a lack of knowledge in what I am showing them, as I had always assumed they would fully understand the data and information presented. Given infographics are an opportunity to present your data to various people with different prior knowledge, it’s important that they can instantly infer the main message from it, regardless of their experience in the subject area.
It is hard work to present data in a way that everyone can comprehend, as it requires a good understanding of the research, and the ability to translate this into clear visual findings. Yet, it’s worth it. During the summer school I made a beautiful infographic which you can easily “eyeball” to instantly understand the research findings, whilst still being visually engaging. I would use infographics again in the future for my presentations as this is such a great way to present findings!
What part of the summer course did you enjoy most?
I extremely enjoyed the trips I went on as part of the summer course. Being able to join the children of the noughties conference was an enlightening and unique experience. Attending the conference helped contribute to my work on socioeconomic inequalities later in the summer course, by providing multiple perspectives which I applied when conducting the research for my topic. From watching the insightful presentations, it also left a lasting impact on me in terms of considering my own presentation skills. As a result, I feel that my own ability to present academic research has also greatly improved, and I was able to put these skills to practice when presenting my work on the final day of the summer course.
Throughout the summer course I was fortunate enough to be delivered thoughtful and intellectual presentations from researchers at UCL, delving into a broad range of topics from physical health to social inequalities. But a highlight of the programme was being given the fantastic opportunity to learn how to create creative and engaging presentations, through designing an infographic based on research covered in the course. I was supported by researchers who shared well written articles, and gave me guidance on specifics design principles and clear communication strategies. Through this activity, not only did I learn to communicate clearly, but I also gained confidence in my ideas and abilities. The activity also allowed me to engage with other students my age with shared interests, making the course a really rewarding and memorable experience.