As a summative assessment option, fact sheets are a less traditional way to have students engage with the content they’re learning. They’ll need to find and carefully select data and/or ideas to create a one- or two-page fact sheet with the objective of persuading or informing a hypothetical audience.
Class of learners
Core Competency Connection
A fact sheet is a one- or two-page document that presents information in a concise way with the intent of informing or persuading an audience. Fact sheets can include statistics, images, graphs, and brief (often bulleted) textual content, and they can be customized to fit a wide variety of subject matter. It’s not uncommon to see fact sheets in diverse, real-world contexts (like public health and marketing). When used as assignments, fact sheets can be made to fit a broad range of course content too.
Creating a fact sheet requires learners to engage critically with their topic to identify the most important information, then organize and communicate it in an efficient way. While the end product may not be as dense or comprehensive as an assignment like an essay, the need for making judicious decisions about content and communication can still get your learners to think at high levels about their course materials. When constructing a fact sheet assignment for your class, there are a number of factors to consider.
1. The Assignment: Topic
The topic should be narrow enough to allow for the focused approach required by a fact sheet. Having too broad of a topic will make it difficult for your learners to create a concise document.
Assigned or chosen? Do you want learners to create fact sheets about specific, essential course topics that you assign, or do you want to give them the freedom to identify their own topics within the parameters of the course?
2. The Assignment: Purpose
Fact sheets are typically used either to inform or to persuade, so be clear about the purpose you’d like to see in learners’ work.
- If you assign informative fact sheets, learners will have an opportunity to increase their knowledge and understanding of a topic.
- If you assign persuasive fact sheets, learners will also have the opportunity to engage higher levels of thinking as they analyze and evaluate their content to create a convincing argument or call–to–action for their audience.
3. The Assignment: Audience
Who do you want your learners creating their fact sheets for? The level of detail and insight will be different depending on whether the target audience is the general public or experts on the subject.
4. The Assignment: Format
Do you want to ensure that learners answer specific questions or include certain headings in their fact sheets? If so, consider providing a template for them to follow.
If you’re interested in a more open approach to the assignment, let learners be creative with their own research and arrangements. In this case, it would still be helpful to direct learners to the numerous examples and templates available online if they’re looking for inspiration.
5. The Assignment: Expectations
Make sure to provide clear instructions on what fact sheets are like, specifically characteristics like limited narrative text and a focus on clear and concise facts and explanations.
Providing an example or two of what a fact sheet looks like will likely be appreciated by learners.
Consider providing a rubric before learners begin to make your expectations even more clear.
By itself, creating a fact sheet can be a valuable learning tool for your students and a useful assessment tool for you. If you want to enrich the activity even further, here are some ideas on extending the assignment beyond just the fact sheet itself:
1. Extensions of Assessment: Reflection
Ask learners to include a reflective paper as part of the assignment. This will allow them to think about and explain their thought processes as they researched and selected their material, as well as provide deeper insight into their persuasive argument.
2. Extensions of Assessment: Class Presentation
Having learners present their fact sheets is a way to include a student-teaching opportunity in your course and allow learners to learn from each other.
3. Extensions of Assessment: Peer Review
Have learners share their fact sheets with a classmate or two for feedback on their design and message before submitting their assignment for marking.
4. Extensions of Assessment: Citations
Require learners to find and cite a number of reliable resources as a way to have them engage with additional resources on the subject.
5. Extensions of Assessment: Use As a Formative Assessment
If learners need to complete a major paper or project later in the course, the fact sheet assignment could be used to lead into the larger project. Armed with the feedback they receive on their fact sheet, learners should be even better prepared for the larger assignment.