Highlights from student placements

Last year, our graphic communication undergraduate students had the opportunity to undertake some exciting information design placements, including working on an inclusive design research project and designing infographics for the BMJ – (which may be  more familiar to some readers as the British Medical Journal).

We are involved in a cross-disciplinary research project exploring the role of icons in cueing therapy resources for people with aphasia.

Carmen Martínez-Freile explored the appropriateness of different levels of visual complexity in illustrations used in cueing therapy.

Part 3 student, Carmen Martínez-Freile joined our CIDR team to research the role of icons in cueing therapy. Carmen’s research was carried out as part of the University’s undergraduate research opportunities programme (UROP) and a wider research collaboration between Biomedical Engineering, Clinical Language Sciences and Typography & Graphic Communication, which brings together our shared interests in inclusive design and assistive technology. The project is supported by NIHR.

Working with Dr Jeanne-Louise Moys (CIDR), Professor Rachel McCrindle (Biomedical Engineering), Dr Holly Robson (Clinical Language Sciences) and other colleagues, Carmen explored the ways in which different kinds of visualisations might be used in cueing therapy. Carmen’s study explored participants’ preferences for different styles of illustration to help us identify which visual approach to apply to research materials used in assessing the effectiveness of illustrated boards used in cueing therapy. Contrary to existing guidelines, the findings of the focus group suggested that participants preferred simple icon-style illustrations. It is possible that participants’  familiarity with the kinds of icons they see in everyday mobile interfaces is why they found particular icons to be easiest to understand.

Part 2 student, Fenella Astley undertook an information design placement at the BMJ. During her time there, Fenella worked on a number of infographics, including topics such as ‘Faltering Growth’ and ‘World Bank and Financing Global Health’.  She also created a range of other data visualisations for the BMJ, including graphs, charts and forest plots.

Will Stahl-Timmins (BMJ Interactive Data Graphics Designer and a regular guest contributor our undergraduate data visualisation projects) said: “Fenella took on board the house style for infographics incredibly quickly, and having her input allowed us to get further ahead with the infographics schedule than ever before”.

Fenella said: “I particularly enjoyed working within a house style as it gave me an experience in industry which I had never had the opportunity to do before. I also enjoyed working at the BMA house in a professional environment as it gave me an insight into the industry of publishing which I thoroughly enjoyed and would consider as a career in the near future. Working alongside Will meant I learnt a lot during my time there. He gave me helpful advice on the design process, in particular the process of designing infographics. It was also very interesting to attend planning meetings for the journal which gave me a further understanding of the field of publishing.”

Fenella has already applied some of the skills she developed at this internship to her Graphic Communication degree coursework.

We look forward to future collaborations.

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