Background of the Study
Graphics design can be considered the combination of technological processes with creative thinking in order to produce an output that is visually appealing to the required target audience (Halliday, 2012).
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What must be understood though is that while a student can effectively and efficiently reproduce what is taught in regards to the technological processes involved in graphical design work, the issue of the creative processes involved is something else entirely different (Rosenquist, 2012).
Triggs (2011) explains this by stating that the creative process involved in graphical design is not something that can be merely learned from a textbook and reproduced, rather it is developed and honed through practice and experience (Triggs, 2011).
It is due to this that various students within graphics design schools throughout the country at times struggle with the concept of creating designs that are both creative and appeal to their intended audience (Lasserre, 2011).
This presents a rather severe problem given that the intended purpose of graphic designs schools is to develop their students in such a way that they can effectively integrate themselves into a corporate environment in order to immediately put their skills to use (Lasserre, 2011).
It is based on this that this study will attempt to examine what elements in the creative processes of graphics design are the most challenging for students to connect with. Once identified, the research will devise various recommendations in order to address such concerns.
The main goal of this research paper is to determine what specific elements in the creative process of graphics design are the most challenging for students to connect with. By doing so, it is expected that new teaching methods can be devised in order to address such challenges and, as a result, improve the way graphics design students learn and develop within their respective academic institutions.
It is based on this that the following objectives have been developed for this research paper:
- Examine relevant academic data involving the current processes involved in teaching graphics design to students.
- Determine what specific problems have been noted by relevant studies involving the most difficult processes and techniques to teach students.
- Develop a questionnaire to examine the opinions of graphics designers, peer instructors and students regarding the most challenging aspects of teaching and learning graphics design.
- Compare the questionnaire data with the information from the literature review.
- Determine the most challenging elements when it comes to learning graphics design.
- Devise strategies and recommendations in which such challenges can be addressed.
What elements in the creative processes of graphics design are the most challenging for students to connect with?
Training and Development
Training can be defined as a process of learning that entails acquiring a certain set of skills, the development of a type of expertise in a certain field and the internalization of ideas, rules, or modification of behaviors and attitudes to improve performance within a specific endeavor. As such, training can be considered an action that results in what many researchers define as “professional performance” within a given field.
Moreover, training refers to a temporary process of sharpening the skills and knowledge of students to enable them to carry out the potential responsibilities that will be assigned to them once they enter into a professional working environment. It must be noted though that studies such as those by Latif (2012) indicate that the process of training does not always go smoothly (Latif, 2012).
There are instances where certain types of procedures, techniques and methods of operations are often not understood by those being taught. If such instances are not addressed, this would result in the development of an inferior set of skills that would result in an individual being unable to perform their job correctly.
Development on the other hand refers to a permanent learning process employing a planned and logical procedure through which students learn theoretical and conceptual knowledge. It also refers to learning specific knowledge tailored to assist a student to grow and develop as a professional within his/her respective field.
It offers common knowledge and approaches which are important to enable a student to apply creative thinking to resolve unique problems they encounter. Similar to the case of training, the process of development can also be derailed through the introduction of complicated lessons which are not immediately internalized by the learner.
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In such cases Zenger et al. (2011), recommends the identification of specific issues regarding the lessons introduced and the development of new methods of learning in order to address the identified complications in the learning process (Zenger et al., 2011).
Attribution theory centers around the derived assumption of a particular individual/group of people regarding a particular process, product or service based on their experience with it. It is often used as means of investigating consumer opinions regarding a particular product and to determine the level of satisfaction derived from its use.
By utilizing this particular theory as the framework for this study the researcher will be able to properly correlate the opinions of the research subjects regarding their assumptions over what practices lead to the greatest complications when it comes to the creative process in graphics design.
According to Birkhofer (2011) a survey/questionnaire technique is used when the researcher is principally interested in descriptive, explanatory or exploratory appraisal, as is the case in this study (Birkhofer, 2011).
The justification for choosing a questionnaire approach for this particular study is grounded on the fact that participants will have the ability to respond to the data collection tool by way of self-report, thus, this project will utilize a self-administered questionnaire schedule for the purposes of data collection (Lietz, 2010).
An analysis of related literature will also be used to compare the study findings in order to develop a succinct method of analysis regarding current practices utilized by graphics design instructors involving learning and development programs for their students (Lietz, 2010).
Data Collection Process
Hansson (2011) notes that research that is performed in a rigorous manner can lead to more effective practices than decisions based mainly on intuition, personal preferences, or common sense (Hansson, 2011).
It is based on this that the researcher will utilize the views garnered through the interviews that will be conducted along with econometric data in order to develop a sufficient platform from which effective and above all accurate conclusions can be developed.
The data collection process will actually be quite straightforward; the researcher will first create a letter addressing it to several members of the faculty of school involved in the teaching of graphics design.
The letter will consist of a request for a short interview wherein a questionnaire will be given to them which will consist of various questions that will help identify the elements in the creative process of graphic design are the most challenging for students.
After the necessary data has been collected the researcher will thank the faculty and proceed to step two of the data collection procedure involving students. In this case random students from within the researcher’s class will be asked to fill out the same type of questionnaire.
The interviews will be conducted individually to ensure its alignment with the aforementioned anonymity of the study results. It will also be necessary to assure the participants of the safe storage of information before the interview begins to encourage them to give genuine answers. It was determined by the researcher that responses will be more favorable if the interview is conducted privately.
This approach will mitigate accommodation costs thus making the project more cost effective.
After collecting and analyzing data, the final report, together with recommendations will be presented to the study participants via email in order to show the impact of their opinions and ensure that responses were utilized in such a way that it complies with views that the participants intended to give out and are completely anonymous thus preventing any possible victimization from occurring.
Evaluating the Questionnaire Responses
Two methods may be used to score the test, raw score and relative. Both will be used for comparison in the study. The raw score method is a simple sum of the responses within each scale. This involves merely examining which responses seem similar to each other or which are widely divergent. The relative scoring method compares scales for relative contribution to the overall score.
The relative proportion for each scale is found by dividing the individual mean score for the scale by the combined means for all scales. What must be understood is that unlike other types of questionnaires administered through similar studies, this questionnaire does not utilize a score or point system wherein responses are limited to a set amount (i.e. picking from a set of 4,5,6 etc.).
The reason behind this is quite simple; the researcher is attempting to gauge the individual accounts of the research subjects in the form of data which involves their own personal accounts and experiences regarding the elements of the creative process of graphics design and as such the responses would result in any number of possible opinions that cannot be easily encompassed by a set number of choices created by the researcher.
Significance of the Study
The significance of this study lies in its potential to show the current problems in the training and development programs for graphics arts students. By examining the creative elements that a graphic arts student finds the most challenging, this study will be able to create suggestions in order to improve the current operational performance within various art schools in addressing such problems.
It is also important to note that as multinational corporations continue to expand into new markets it has become increasingly apparent that the expectations of recruiters regarding the skills of newly graduated students are increasing.
As such, colleges and universities need to ensure that their students are fully prepared for the rigors of the corporate world and the best way of doing so is to make sure that their competencies match those required by various companies.
Due to the highly competitive environment that new hires find themselves in at the present, it is no longer the case that skills and competencies can be learned on the job. Companies are expecting immediate results and as such colleges and universities have to step up to the plate in producing capable and creative graduates who can immediately put their skills to use.
Limitations of the Study
It must be noted that the time constraint on this study only allows structured questionnaire distribution with an unrepresentative number of people, and also a limited flexibility when conducting the distribution of the questionnaires. A general overview from multiple institutions of training aside from the current institute of the researcher is therefore not possible.
All data will be collected from the teacher/student population of the researcher’s current academic institution. Overall, the data collection process is expected to be uneventful; however, some challenges may be present in collecting training and development data over the past 10 years due to the inherent limitations in data collection procedures.
Such issues though can be resolved through access to online academic resources such as EBSCO hub, Academic Search Premier, Master FILE Premier, Newspaper Source Plus, and AP News Monitor Collection.
Other databases consulted for this topic include Emerald Insight, Academic OneFile, Expanded Academic ASAP, General OneFile, Global Issues in Context, Newsstand, Opposing Views in Context, Popular Magazines, and Design History in Context as well as other such online databases which should have the necessary information. Relevant books were also included in the review.
Furthermore websites such as www.gdusa.com have several online articles which contain snippets of information that should be able to help steer the study towards acquiring the necessary sources needed to justify asserted arguments within the study.
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Study
Overall, the main weakness of this study is in its reliance on questionnaire results as the primary source of data in order to determine the general opinion of instructors and students regarding what elements in the creative process of graphics design are the most challenging for students.
There is always the possibility that the responses could be false or that the instructor/ student in question really does not know anything at all regarding the various methods involving skill improvement that will be indicated by the researcher. While this can be resolved by backing up the data with relevant literature it still presents itself as a problem that cannot be easily remedied.
Reliability and Validity
Reliability in any research process implies that the same set of data would have been collected each time in repeat examinations of the same variable or phenomenon, otherwise referred to as consistency of measurement. To realize reliability of the study findings, the researcher will certify that items incorporated in the questionnaire will only capture data that are of interest to the broader objectives of the study.
The range of measurement of the surveys will also be adjusted upwards to enhance internal consistency of the study findings. Various research study guides have determined that validity is a measurement that is used to describe a measure or instrument that correctly reflects the variable or phenomena it is intended to evaluate, thus reinforcing the conclusions, assumptions, and propositions made from the analysis of data.
Internal validity, which denotes the soundness of a study or investigation, will be achieved through the establishment of a framework for the application of effective sampling techniques and employing a validated and reliable survey schedule for the propose of data collection.
Possible ethical considerations that may arise through this study consist of the following:
- The potential for unintentional plagiarism through verbatim lifting of information, arguments and points of view from researched source material.
- The use of unsubstantiated information taken from unverifiable or nonacademic resources (ex: internet articles).
- The use of a biased viewpoint on issues which may inadvertently result in an alteration of the questionnaire results.
- Presentation of data without sufficient corroborating evidence or a lack of citation.
- Falsifying the results of the research for the benefit of the initial assumptions of the study.
- Using views and ideas without giving due credit to the original source.
According to Wilson & Hunter (2010) “Ethics refers to the appropriateness of your behavior in relation to the rights of those who become the subject of your work, or are affected by it” (Wilson & Hunter, 2010). Further communication will proceed between those who agree to take part in the survey and the researcher via email to ensure that all individuals understand the requirements for the study.
The researcher will also take time to elaborate the rights of participants during the study process, including the right to informed consent and the right to confidentiality. By addressing these concerns through guidelines on proper ethics and research, it is expected that there will be few ethical concerns that will need to be addressed.
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Hansson, S. (2011). Do we Need a Special Ethics for Research?. Science & Engineering Ethics, 17(1), 21-29.
Lasserre, B. (2011). Speaking the critique in graphic design: The role of metaphor. Art, Design & Communication In Higher Education, 10(1), 51-66
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Lietz, P. (2010). Research into questionnaire design. International Journal Of Market Research, 52(2), 249-272.
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