APR Update: Strategies for Sustaining an Approved CFLE Academic Program

By Deborah B. Gentry, Ed.D., CFLE, NCFR Academic Program Liaison
CFLE Network - Summer 2016
Content Area
Family Science Education
Family Life Education Methodology

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Deborah Gentry

The primary focus of this column is to share some strategies I believe, once employed, can help sustain and grow an existing approved CFLE academic program…. perhaps yours. These strategies are outlined in an infographic, a secondary focus for the column. I conclude with some examples of possible learning activities within which students could be called upon to create and explain aspects of an infographic.

The University of Illinois at Urbana recently hosted its 20th annual Faculty Summer Institute in late May. Living and working within an easy hour’s drive, I decided to attend this day of professional development as its focus was appealing to me: Ways to engage students “@ the intersection of teaching, learning, and technology.” Two breakout sessions featured faculty who spoke of how they call upon their students to demonstrate what they have learned using infographics. Presenters illustrated two software applications that facilitate the development of infographics: Piktochart and Easel.ly. A colleague, who is very much into creating infographics, describes an infographic as a visual representation of data, ideas, information, and/or knowledge. It uses a combination of words, numbers, pictures, charts, illustrations, and colors for purposes of providing an explanation in an engaging manner. As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Infographics should have relevant, informative, and interesting content and, in the end, should leave readers sensing they have a better understanding of the topic or concept at hand.

After these institute sessions, I was determined to try my own hand at creating infographics. My first effort resulted in the infographic shown here.

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I live in the State of Illinois, which has gone without a state budget for an entire year and appears to be embarking on a second year with only stop gap measures temporarily holding things together. The lack of a budget has had a devastating impact upon state universities (and many other entities and service providers, for that matter). Every day, I observe administrators and faculty having to make and give rationales for difficult programmatic and operational decisions. But, I sense that other colleges and universities outside of Illinois grapple with tight budgets, too. Limited monies need to be used in meaningful ways. So, for undergraduate and graduate level family related academic programs to pursue and earn approved status through our NCFR CFLE APR endeavor and then not implement ways to sustain, even grow, the program in an effort to demonstrate its worth is regrettable.

Sustaining and growing an existing approved CFLE academic program is not easy in these uncertain times. It often requires creativity, as well as attentiveness and persistence. As I have become acquainted with more and more of our approved programs, I have compiled the list of helpful strategies reflected on my infographic. Knowing that space for my column in this newsletter is limited, I suspected the print on the infographic highlighting them might not be readable. Thus, they are enumerated below.

  1. Administrator support, from chairs, directors, deans and provosts, is crucial.
  2. While having one faculty or staff member with the CFLE designation who champions the CFLE APR program is expected, having two or more helps to ensure the tasks associated with renewal of approved status are shared and, thus, not too burdensome for just one person.
  3. Publicizing initial and renewed approved status in a variety of ways is key to sustainability. Such efforts can entail press releases to campus and local community news outlets; development of brochures and pamphlets for marketing to prospective and existing students and their parents; information on specially designated bulletin boards; guest speaker appearances at student organization and faculty meetings; announcements to internship site supervisors, local employers, advisory boards, and alumni groups; and meetings with campus foundation fund-raisers in hopes a targeted effort to seek funding to support the program will be undertaken.
  4. When it is known to students that multiple faculty and staff maintain NCFR membership and/or the CFLE credential, it speaks volumes to them about the value of each.
  5. Syllabi are an obvious mechanism for enhancing student awareness of the CFLE APR program when it is overtly mentioned how course objectives and student learning outcomes complement relevant Content Area expectations.
  6. It is crucial that new academic advisors become well informed about the CFLE APR program and become committed to mentioning it to students on a regular basis. Ongoing academic advisors can benefit from having their memories refreshed about the program and its benefits as well.
  7. Purposeful and meaningful use of FLE, CFLE, and NCFR resources materials about career paths in a variety of courses will surely be well-received by students.
  8. In accompaniment to #7 above, designing informal and formal occasions for students to develop and articulate a professional identity as a FLE and CFLE is vital to program growth and sustainability.
  9. As “icing on the cake,” students pursuing the CFLE will truly appreciate efforts within a capstone course or experience to guide them through the process of readying their application for Provisional certification as a FLE. After commencement, new graduates are much more likely to actually submit their paperwork to NCFR Headquarters.

As noted at the bottom of my infographic, I used a free template provided by Piktochart to create it. Easel.ly also offers free templates. For those who want to have more template and other kinds of options regarding their infographics, it is possible to acquire them for a modest fee. For those who are more technologically and design savvy, an infographic can be generated “from scratch.” As I have practiced making this and subsequent infographics, I have noticed some similarity with features of Microsoft Word’s Publisher and PowerPoint software. An obvious benefit of having students produce infographics is that course content is reinforced. Enhanced technological and visual literacy can be additional benefits.

There are several types of infographics: Statistical, process, informational, and summary. A good case for the infographic featured in this column being an informational as well as summary type could be made. Students enrolled in a research methods course that focuses on FLE program evaluation could be assigned to find journal articles focusing on various program evaluation studies and then be prompted to create a statistical infographic highlighting various findings. For a family policy course, students could be assigned to devise an infographic that illustrates issue analysis processes, or perhaps how policy or law comes to fruition. Similarly, students in a family life education methodology course could be asked to generate an infographic that shows the steps in designing a FLE program from beginning to end. In any family related course that includes one or more theories as a basis for understanding individual behavior or family dynamics, students could produce an infographic that summarizes concepts, constructs, principles, propositions, and assumptions of a given theory. Further, an infographic that compares and contrasts parenting styles could be fashioned by students in a course that examines parent-child relationships. And, as a last example, in a capstone or internship course, students could be shown how infographics could be used as an alternative format for a resume and could be encouraged to give it a try.

Circling back to the primary focus of this column, in a course that introduces students to family life education as a field of study and practice, student engagement levels could be enhanced by having them create an assortment of infographics that help to explain the depth and breadth of family life education; the numerous and varied career paths that are possible; the ways to become a Certified Family Life Educator; the elements of the CFLE Code of Ethics; and more. Students’ final products could be assessed based on a variety of criteria (e.g., accuracy, ability to purposefully “tell a story,” creativity, appeal, and application of good design principles). Perhaps, after some friendly competition, the infographics perceived to be most effective could then be placed in high traffic, high visibility locations where the academic program is housed. Though the disciplinary context is chemistry, follow this link to view a collection of 21 infographics prepared by students enrolled in a chemistry course at the University of Illinois, the Springfield campus: https://sites.google.com/a/uis.edu/che-363-infographics-spring-2016/ 

As you will note, students in the class were directed to a Blackboard site to vote for their “favorite,” though no criteria for such a decision was indicated.

References

Beegel, J. (2014).  Infographics for dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Byrne, R. (June, 2011). Picture this: Infographics help users gain a handle on complex data. Create your own with these tools. School Library Journal, 75(6), p. 15. See http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE|A257765398&v=2.1&u=mlin_m_wayhs&it=r&p=PROF&sw=w&asid=3c65dc5fd6e8bc5b8af9c25a80da9949

Killian, K. (July 15, 2015). A picture as worth a thousand words: Increasingly, infographics are an effective way to deliver a message of education or engagement. FoodService Director, 28(7), p. 38. See http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE|A426147183&v=2.1&u=mlin_m_wayhs&it=r&p=GPS&sw=w&asid=0edb5caec1a5bfe256693f929a6e5665

Lankow, J., Ritchie, J, and Crooks, R. (2012). Infographics: The power of visual storytelling. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Morgan, H. (2014). The infographic resume: How to create a visual portfolio that showcases your skills and lands the job.   New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Richter, S. (October 15, 2013). Teaching with infographics. (PowerPoint slides). See http://www.slideshare.net/srichter/teaching-with-infographics-27211531.

Ross, A. (June 7, 2009). InfoGraphic designs: overview, examples and best practices. InstantShift. See http://www.instantshift.com/2009/06/07/infographic-designs-overview-examples-and-best-practices/