Project Based Learning (PBL) is widely recognized as an effective teaching method when compared to traditional lecture-based approaches in the classroom. Recognizing that the graphic communications industry needs employees with requisite skill sets and the established efficacy of PBL as a pedagogical technique for teaching those skills, the researcher examined the implementation of PBL in post-secondary institutions serving the graphic communications industry.

A cross-sectional survey was conducted to solicit information from educators in graphic communications programs in the United States. The questionnaire was designed to examine the factors which comprise PBL utilized in the classroom. PBL factors were derived from an extensive search of the relevant literature, and included critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity and innovation, self-direction, and local connections.

In the examination of the differences between lecture- and laboratory-based courses with PBL implementation, similarities as well as differences were noted when the mean ranks of the various factors were analyzed. The study also examined the various types of graphic communication courses taught by different degree programs; it is found that the associates' level schools are focused almost entirely on Graphic, Digital and New Media and Printing Technologies and Processes, whereas institutions awarding Bachelor's degrees offered more diverse topics, including Business Management and Entrepreneurship and Materials and Sciences.

Finally, the research investigated the support-structures which are in place to support professional development for graphic communications educators. Respondents indicated that over three-quarters of administrators support teachers in their professional development, however funding and release time for development were not as widely cited.

Overall, to fully adopt these PBL activities as part of their pedagogy, it is crucial for them to prepare themselves with these teaching techniques. Further, having a clear goal of exposing students to real-work outcomes could help educators to shift the mindset of their students with not only requisite technical skills but also the desired soft-skills such as working collaboratively and managing projects.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Project method in teaching; Visual communication--Study and teaching

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Print Media (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Media Sciences (CIAS)


Bruce Myers

Advisor/Committee Member

Michael Riordan


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at LB1027.43 .Z25 2017


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes