2012 Teaching Portfolio Update


The year 2012 presented several opportunities and challenges with the switch from a 24-month to a 21-month program in addition to curriculum revisions for an interum 24-month program. Currently, the Graphic Design department is organizing, developing and delivering 3 different sets of curricula. One group of students in their 8th quarter will be the last group to finish the curriculum version that has been in place for several years. Then, there are two groups remaining who will go through the interum 24-month curriculum where courses were combined, updated and renamed. This curriculum will be taught out within one year. Finally, we have two different starts who are currently enrolled in the new 21-month program, which incorporates large scale changes in existing courses and the development of several new core courses.

Looking back, much of this past year was focused on the preparation and planning for a smooth implementation of these changes launched in July 2012.

My goals for 2011 included the following:

1 Refine and Improve Web and Interactive Skills

2 Develop and Revise Graphic Design Curriculum

3 Become More Accessible and Visible to the Students

Facilitating the curriculum development for the Graphic Design department quickly became my main goal. I have continued to improve my web and interactive skills and have added Web Design 1 to my teaching capabilities list. I have also been able to more closely connect with several students via Linked-In.

Review of Previous 2011 Goals


With each Design 3, Portfolio 1 and Portfolio 2 course I teach, I become increasingly confident with my web and interactive skills. I have now added Web Design 1 to my teaching capabilities list as a secondary course. Although teaching new material can be a challenge, I'm confident that I could teach Web Design 1 in a pinch, with the support of my experienced, fellow instructors.This also satisfies my personal goal of staying current with industry standards and skills.

During the past year, one situation that increased my confidence in my ability to teach beginning-level web skills was the opportunity to teach a student who was re-enteing the Graphic Design program. When Phil Pagliari was previously enrolled at PTI, there was one web class in the course outline. At the time, the course was highly focused on the Dreamweaver Interface and on using tables in website layouts. In addition, CSS had not yet been developed at that time. Within just a few years, web design and coding has changed qite a bit. Now, the students take two web classes for the Graphic Design program, and learn to write code instead of depending on the Dreamweaver interface.

Shortly after returning to the Graphic Design program at PTI, Phil had reached the Portfolio 1 course where he was expected to create a portfolio website as a course requirement. Immediately, at the beginning of the course, Phil mentioned that he was worried becasue he did not know HTML or CSS. I knew that Phil would need to learn these web skills quickly in order to succeed in the class. Ultimately, I saw this as a great opportunity to test and expand my own web skills and offtered to work with him during the Wednesday, 2-hour tutoring sessions. Since Phil was incredibly dedicated, he agreed to come in for the 2-hour sessions each week for as long as it would take to learn the skills. He was not required to attend tutoring, but saw it as an opportunity to learn something he needed to know. I also saw it as an opportunity to test my ability to teach web. We continued to meet throughout the quarter and Phil did indeed learn what he needed to in order to design and develop his own portfolio website.

I'm very proud to say that Phil was able to learn web basics within 8 weeks of instruction and further advanced his web skills on his own. He even went on to win the Richard S. Caliguiri Award for the Graphic Design department in October, 2012. His decision to meet with me to learn web was just one of the ways Phil demonstrated his drive and committment to succeed. He was very understanding of the fact that I did not have all the answers, but would troubleshoot with him and ask for help when I couldn't find the answers we needed. I believe that through this experience, I was also modeling life-long learning for him, which includes showing an interest in what you're learning, admitting when you don't know how to do something, working with others to find the answers and showing your appreciation for those individuals' time and knowledge. It was so wonderful to be able to offer my knowledge and learn with an individual who appreciated my time and knowledgeas well, and it only reinforced my own web skills. These are the teaching moments that you never expect and cannot plan, but have a huge impact on the student's and the teacher's growth.

Phil Pagliari Portfolio Website

Phil Pagliari Portfolio Website: www.p2gd.com




The main goal for curriculum development this year was to organize and facilitate changes needed for the new 21-month program. With the new course layout, some courses needed to be updated due to increase of classroom hours per week, some were being combined and still others needed to be newly written. During the departmental session of the Fall 2011 Faculty In-Service day, I facilitated a curriculum update session where the Graphic Design instructors worked in pairs to complete descriptions, competencies and outlines for any new, revised or combined courses. This proved to be time well spent since the students enrolled in this new program started in July 2012. We now have two starts for the 21-month program.

Curriculum teams and courses in need of updates or creation include:

  • GDA113 Design 1: Laurie Tudor, Darrell Bruno, Sarah Davis
  • GDA125 Computer Illustration: Tim Ankeny, Shawn Moody
  • GDA136 Photography: Alicia Cerullo, Darrell Bruno, Mark Dobrowolski
  • GDA143 Production: Shawn Moody, Brandon Jennings
  • GDA127 Digital Imaging: Alicia Cerullo, Shawn Moody
  • GDA139 Advanced Digital Imaging/ Production: Alicia Cerullo, Shawn Moody
  • GDA128 Typography: Darrell Bruno, Rich Haas, Brandon Jennings
  • GDA202 Senior Project: Sarah Davis, Brandon Jennings
  • GDA205 Entrepenuership: Sarah Davis, Darrell Bruno, Josh Sager

GDA113 Design 1

This course needed to be expanded from 44 to 66 contact hours per quarter and would be scheduled for either three, 2-hour classes per week or two, 3-hour classes per week for a total of 6-hours per week. As we reviewed the content, we determined that the course needed to be both simplified and expanded. Students did not seem to have enough time to complete their assignments and some of the content was too advanced for some students. In keeping with the industry needs for entry-level graphic designers who are efficient with Adobe applications and production, and who also have high attention to detail with good practical and technical problem solving skills, some advanced theory content was removed from the course. This content is being considered for the Design 2 course. This decision also aligns with the GD team's decision to pare down and focus on technical skills as opposed to more advanced conceptural skills. We also determined that the students needed more time to practice, with more exercises and fewer large projects. With this in mind, we were able to add cutting exercises, reduce the number of thumbnails needed for specific projects and focus more on smaller assignments with just a few larger projects. We were also able to organize less of a variety of content, but go deeper into that content so the students gain a better understanding of the basics. This approach differes from our past approach of giving the students a broader, less concentrated survey of design theories. This course is now in it's second running and has proven to be successful.

GDA202 Senior Project

This course is still being developed. The goal of this course is to organize and facilitate lessons which enable the student to plan and create a unique and comprehensive portfolio campaign. This could include several pieces targeted to the same audience and promoting the same event or product. It could also take the shape of a multipage booklet or website and interactive piece. This provides an opportunity for the student to individualize their work and display their skills in conceptualizing a project and bringing it to fruition. With changes in the Portfolio requirements leading to each student showing different solutions for similar clients and problems, this course adds a very important skill showing the student's ability to conceptualize and use their creative problem solving skills in addition to solving technical challenges. We are taking the individualized approach that has worked in the portfolio classes for some time now and allowing the student to work the entire quarter on one large project. Some skills the student will practice include planning and communicating their ideas both visually and verbally, project management, time management, creative conceptual development, choosing appropriate applications for their projects, photographing their own images, choosing and evaluating production and finishing options and, finally, producing the entire project on their own with guidance from the instructor.

GDA205 Entrenpeneurship

This online course is still being developed. The focus is on reviewing business practices specific to professional creatives. Some of the topics covered will include contracts, invoicing, copyright, freelancing, client relations, operations, management, proposals and accounting. A few Universities and Art Schools offer design degrees that specifically addressGraphic Design Entrpeneurship, so that is an area we are currently researching in order to learn more about existing courses. This course will also draw on much of the content that was previously taught in the Project Development class.

Additional curriculum development for 2011 included the following courses:

  • GDA282 Portfolio Development 2
  • GDA271 Portfolio Development 1
  • GDS003 Steps to Career Success 3

GDA271/282 Portfolio Development 1 and 2

The submission process we have been using for Portfolio 1 and 2 is somewhat cumbersome, so I wanted to make it more efficient for the student and the instructor. The student drives are not currently big enough to house the often larger size portfolio files. We also do not currently have rewritable CD/DVD software. So, Instead of students burning new CD's with each revision, I wanted to try using Google Docs/Google Drive as a way for students to plan and submit their work.

As part of the Portfolio classes, we ask the students to complete an Inventory Sheet that allows them to plan what pieces they will work on for the quarter. This document encourages the students to plan and and make a committment in advance to what they will be using for their portfolio pieces. It is also the document in which they record their research sources evaluate their own work and plan for revisions. Once the document is completed, it allows the instructor to see what the student thinks about their work before asking for feedback from the instructor. It also guides the student through the thought process needed to choose a piece, evaluate it, perform research and make a plan for revisions.

This document was formerly an MS Word document, but I created a Google Doc that I shared with the students so the updates and changes would appear in real time. They could see my comments and I could see theirs as soon as they were typed out. This also meant that they did not have to print the Inventory Sheet with every submission. In addition to creating a shared Google Doc for the Inventory Sheet, I created folders for each student so they could upload their research images and portfolio pieces to Google Drive as a way to submit their work for grading. Although there was a learning curve at first, this not only made it easier for the students to submit their work, but also made it easier for the instructor to manage and review their work. I will continue to use this process for portfolio submissions and share it with the rest of the team.

GSD003 Steps to Career Success 3

At the time I was assigned to teach Steps 3, competencies were written for the course, but no outline or course materials specific to Graphic Design had been created. I saw this class as an opportunity to lighten the heavy course load in the Design 3 and Portfolio classes by pulling the professional development lessons from those classes into Steps 3. Since Design 3 was taught during the same quarter as Steps 3, I was able to coordinate due dates and lessons in order to reinforce the content. In addition to researching job postings, evaluating their design work, and reviewing current portfolio websites, the students particiated in the Advisor Process that had been removed from the Portfolio classes. This process required the students to choose their best piece and send it to a professional graphic designer in order to get feedback. Another helpful process that was brought into the Steps 3 class was asking the student to turn in and have their portfolio evaluated before going on their mock Interview. In the past, instructors did not always get a chance to see what the students were taking on their mock interviews and this allowed them some time to make small correction and get feedback before going on the interview. Finally, the students were able to practice talking about their work as if they were in an interview. This is a skill that we will continue to address and look for improvements. This course will be taught out this year, but some of the material might be added to the Steps to Career Success 2. course.


I use Facebook to connect with family and close friends, so I do not casually accept every friend request. I have made a conscious decision to not "friend" any students on my Facebook account. I do let them know in advance that I don't friend "any" students in order to keep our relationship on a professional level. So, when I thought about how I could better connect with students using social media, I thought about making a professional Facebook pagespecifically for students to connect with me. It would be focused on Graphic Design and students form different levels would be able to post their work or ask questions. I envision it as an open forum, where I could post exceptional work or and where any student could friend me. This way, students would be clear on how to communicate with me and to what personal level they might connect with me. Of course, I would have other things listed about myslef that they might be interested in like the fact that I have pet rats, for instance.

What I focused on this year was expanding my Linked-in connections to current PTI students and alumni. I am now connected with over 100 PTI students. Many have graduated and are currently working in the field and will prove to be great contacts for the advisory board, career services, portfolio show in addition to expanding the portfolio show judging pool. One graduate I just connected with, Derek Evanik, graduated in July 1999 and is currently a storyboard artist in Los Angeles working on Disney’s "Fish Hooks" show. (evanickportfolio.blogspot.com) This does wonders for my outlook on teaching to get a broad view of all the students I've worked with who are now in the industry and doing well. It also allows us to create a PTI Graphic Design community since the program has been in opperation for 17 years.

Accomplishments and Activities


I participated in the following professional development activities:

Faculty In-Service Sessions

  • October 2011 - General Session, Department Initiatives
  • October 2011 - Study Strategies of a Genius Theory
  • October 2011 - Examining Assessment from Both Sides of the Desk
  • February 2012 - The Art of Being Firm, Fair & Consistent: Managing Diverse Learners & Classroom Dynamics
  • February 2012 - General Session; Departmental Initiatives

Online Teaching Module

This course proved to be challenging and gave me an idea for how much time and work is involved in creating and facilitating an online course. I was able to participate in WIMBA sessionsso I could see what it was like from the student perspective. But, we also prepared materials for delivery via an online class to see what it was like from an instructor perspective. I found that the amount of time to prepare a lesson, if you had no existing online materials for a course, is quite extensive. Making sure the information is available in a variety of delivery methods and making sure directions are clear was something I focused on quite a bit. I also paid close attention to making sure communication and feedback were continual, positive and succinct. This module really challenged me to put my thoughts down in a more succint way. Communication also needed to be continual and I learned that I needed to check the course site on a daily basis. I found the amount of effort needed to put forth and create a sense of community was actually quite difficult as compared to an on ground class. Communicating clearly and accurately was also a challenge, making sure that my words not only made sense, but had the appropriate tone. I thought this was a great course and challenging course that made me much more aware of the responsibilities an instructor has and some of the difficulties they might face in facilitating and online course. I really got a lot out of this module.

Open House

I volunteered to participate in the September 2012 Open House session and plan to continue to participate periodically in the future. I wanted to try something new by using studio 511 to set up a mini-portfolio show. We set up the judging boards from the last portfolio show in addition to work from different foundation classes, internship work and a couple of sample portfolios. This created an environment where guests could walk around and look at work and talk with us about general questions. I think starting out in room 510 on the computers gave them a sense of how important digital work is to graphic designers. Alicia Cerullo made a self-running PowerPoint presentation that displayed sample work and she made sure that every other screen showcased a differentGraphic Design graduate's website. Even though out scheduled alumni presenter did not show up, the guests still had a positive response and didn't seem tho think anything was missing from the presentation. I enjoyed talking with the prospective students and parents and was interested to see what the students were interested in. The parents seemed to have good questions and many of them seemed to be interested in the work and what a graphic designeractually does.

One of the things I want to make clearer during the next open house is how broad the discipline is and the fact that you really need to be versitile, creative and interested in problem solving for all media including print, web and interactive work. One of my ideas is to make a poster that explains what a graphic designer does and all the different jobs you can have in addition to all the different types of companies you can find work.

PTI Internal Signage Design and Development

Darrell Bruno and I were asked to design some of the PTI internal identification signage. We first did some research on how other schools identified different departments and schools. Most of our competitors used icons, so we discussed that approach as a possibility. With so many different schools at PTI, however, we eventually decided to use type as an identifier and selected different colors to represent each department and school. We used Avante Gardefor the fon,t since PTI had been using it for all of their identity purposes. We also experimented with shapes that would house the typographic symbols for each discipline. I'm happy to say that within a short amount of time and through a lot of work by internal teams, the internal signage has been installed on each floor and is working very well.

PTI Sign System Icons and Colors

PTI Sign System Faculty PTI Sign System Criminal Justice PTI Sign System Design PTI Sign System Criminal Nursing


I have continued to work as the Assessment/WIDs Coordinator for the Graphic Design Department and I am coordinting more with Program Director, Tim Ankeny, on curriculum development and assessment initiatives. I have continued to attend WIDs Coordinator meetings and report back to the Graphic Design team during departmental team meetings.

In the past, Graphic Design and Multimedia held team meetings together. This works well for information and discussions that apply to both teams. However, the Graphic Design instructors found that they needed to discuss issues and make decisions that only affected the Graphic Design students. The solution was to meet separately every two weeks to address these issues. Alicia Cerullo has volunteered to be the liason for Multimedia since some of the foundation courses may also affect the Multimedia students and she is able to bridge both programs and teach in both departments.

We have held two meetings so far and have been able to discuss key issues that have come up through the move froma 24-month to a 21-month program. We have also been discussing a shift from a conceptual focus to a production focus and have made some good decisions regarding assessment initiatives. Instead of continuing to use the existing SLO form, we have decided to develop competency tests in each of the application courses in addition to a foundation application exam that will be issued in the Steps to Career Success 2 course. The assessment tools were are developing are application exams forAdobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign and Web. In addition, we will create a Foundation application exam or a series of exams that cover Design, Color Theory, Typography, and Production skills. This will allow us to focus more on key skills instead of reviewing every single course, every single quarter. Although the SLO process is important for individual instructors to continue using in order to insure the success of their class, we can work with departmental assessment on a larger scale and compare student skills from quarter to quarter. While we are developing these application exams, we have moved to a shorter version of the SLO Matrix that was approved by Roxy Snodgrass. This has allowed us to focus on one or two items that are in need of revisions for each course.



I received a wonderful recommendation on Linked-In from Julia Turturro (October2012 PTI Graduate).

  • “I want to recommend Sarah Davis as being one of the most influencial teachers I have ever had the pleasure of having. Mrs. Davis, no matter when or how busy, was/is and will always be there to give the best support to her students and show such a strong care in seeing and watching her students succeed. She's always been there to provide the best and most honest advice to help better her students for what they will encounter in the future with their careers with betting us mentally and physically prepared. I wish that everyone could have a chance to have Mrs. Davis for a teacher, even just for a little bit. She'll show you ways to open new doors and help you to feel more confident in the skills that you have been taught. Thank you so much Mrs. Davis for everything and for always being one of the best teachers I have ever had!”

    July 7, 2012, Julia Turturro

    Julia Turturro Portfolio Website: www.turturrodesigns.com


This was an email I received from Ashly Karpa (October2012 PTI Graduate).

  • "My teacher and friend Miz Davis,
    I just had to tell you thank you for everything in the past two years! You are a fantastic teacher who knows her stuff and I respect the hell out of you!!! I just wanted you to know that even tho I bsed about being stressed and always talked about being an alcoholic because of everything :p but that's because I'm a perfectionist as you know! I would love it if we'd stay in contact after graduation!"

    Ashley Karpa, September 27, 2012

    Ashley Karpa Portfolio Website: www.karpadesigns.com


Lyric Bowser designed this Thank You card and delivered her note to me a few days after the October 2012 graduation.

Lyric Bowser Thank You Front Lyric Bowser Thank You Back

Lyric Bowser Portfolio Website: www.artisticlyric.com



Following are my Student Surveys of Instruction issued by PTI from October 2011 through July 2012.

GDA250/256 Design 2

GDA265 Design 3

GDA271 Portfolio Development 1

GDA282 Portfolio Development 2

GSD002 Steps to Career Success 2

GSD003 Steps to Career Success 3

GDA121 Typography 1

2013 Goals

I wanted my goals for 2013 to be more targeted, so I could spend this year on specific tasks that are still challenging, but more focused and easier to measure.

1. Create a professional Facebook page that focuses on current classes, PTI Graphic Design/Multimedia students
and PTI Graphic Design/Multimedia alumni.

This goal is an extension of one of my goals from last year, "To connect with students through social media." I am not comfortable "friending" students through my personal Facebook account where I communicate with family and friends. However, I do think it's an important way to reach out to the students. It's a medium and process that they continually use, so if I can send them a message via Facebook, they might be more likely to take notice. I could also post exemplary student work during the quarter in which it's being completed. Students are always excited when I ask them if I could use their assignment as an example. Now they could tag it and send it to all of their firends instead of just telling them.

2. Create an Assessment model for the Graphic Design department.

As the WIDS Coordinator for the Graphic Design department, I would like to lead the Graphic Design instructors in the development of a new assessment strategy that will replace the Student Learning Outcomes Matrices. While these matrices are a great way to review individual courses, my goal is to create an assessment process that gathers and compares data on student competencies on a broader scale. As mentioned earlier, the Graphic Design team has been meeting bi-monthly to discuss this and other curriculum issues as facilitated by Program Director, Tim Ankeny. The main goal is for us to gather useful information that will tell us whether or not our students are learning what we want them to learn and whether they are retaining these skills over multiple quarters. This will involve creating a Foundation Application Exam where students show their level of skill in Design Theory, Typography, Color Theory and Production. I would also like to lead the teams in creating the application exams for Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, in addition to Web Design and Development. By next year, I hope to have data for at least one set of application exams for each of these areas.


2011 Teaching Portfolio Update


For the year 2011, most of my focus for professional development was in the area of web design and development. There were several reasons that led me to this decision.

1 Web skills have become increasingly important for our students to learn in depth so they can be more competitive and gain employment upon graduation. We have added more interactive and web components to our existing courses as well as adding web and interactive requirements to the Portfolio Development 1 and 2 courses.

2 Web design and development is a skill that Graphic Design instructors need to improve upon in order to better prepare the students. I wanted to help lead our team in getting much needed training and strengthen our web skills as a department.

3 I can’t very well ask my students to learn new skills unless I am willing to learn them myself. My goal is to eventually master them. Until then, I will learn with the students. This ties into my teaching philosophy. It gives me a sense of what it’s like to be on the students’ side and how they might struggle with learning a very linear skill when most of what they learn in the Graphic Design curriculum is more intuitive. I believe that I can bring an aspect of that understanding to teaching web and interactive design in the future.

4 I wanted to join the other GD teachers who are taking on the challenge to learn these new skills. I enjoy collaborating with my colleagues as we build the strength of our team and support one another.

Review of Previous Year's Goals: 2010

1 Teaching Portfolio Website

Over the past year, I’ve made a good bit of progress on my website and have made some discoveries along the way. I learned first hand how important content organization is to the success of a website. I started with a very complicated flow chart that included several navigation headings along with detailed sub-navigation.

Complex Flow Chart

Complex Flowchart

I quickly learned that over-categorizing was not the best approach to making the information accessible to the viewer. Every new category signaled a designated click to go to a new page, which would have been overwhelming to the viewer. After several attempts at reorganizing the content, I was able to create an improved flowchart that was simplified and inclusive.

Improved Flowchart

Keeping content management in mind, I made an early decision to include more than just my PTI teaching portfolio in the site. This was a site that I want students and peers to go to in order to see what I’m up to, what my interests are, who influences me as an artist and a teacher. I wanted a place to show my sketches and experiments and what I do with my free time — who I am as a person. I believe in teaching the whole person, so I felt it was important to share all of the aspects of my life that affect and influence my teaching approach and my design work.

I was able to create the website design as part of the Web Design 1 course that I took with Josh Sager. The students were asked to complete and assignment that involved designing a small website for their graphic design work. I took this opportunity to design my teaching portfolio website and get feedback from my peers. The design and development process taught by all of the web design instructors was not only effective for me in creating my own website, it has also helped me work with other students to troubleshoot and complete their sites.

Website Layout 1

Website Layout 1, Index Page

Website Layout 4

Website Layout 4, Index Page

Website Layout 4

Website Layout 4, About Page

The general web design process follows these basic stages:

  • Design the site first in Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign using a standard set of pixel measurements. Be sure to consider the background in your design as well as universal navigation, a page title and often a header, content and footer area.
  • Prepare the written content in a text application, then copy and format the content on the html pages. Organize the information using basic html tag elements such as "divs" as containers and "paragraph" and "heading" tags for type.
  • Decide where you would like to put your images and links, then format them using basic html tags for those functions.
  • Style the type and layout including spacing and arrangement of sections using a CSS style sheet.
  • Test the site in all browsers and validate all code.
  • Troubleshoot any errors based on testing results.
  • Test > troubleshoot > test > troubleshoot.
Div Diagram

Div Diagram: Shows how the website content will be organized in "containers" using html "div" tags.

The design was the easiest part of the process. I knew what tone I wanted to communicate and had been working on a logo since my last teaching portfolio update. It’s interesting to note, though, that the design and content organization changed together as I went along. They developed together, side-by-side, one affecting the other. As my content became more simplified, so did my design. Working with the web instructors, including Josh Sager, Alicia Cerullo and Tom Estlack really helped me during the revision process. I also collaborated with my colleagues Laurie Tudor and Darrell Bruno, who were taking the Web course with me at the time.

The next steps were to complete the coding for the html pages, the navigation, headings, paragraphs, images, links and CSS style sheets for the content. All of the web exercises that I had done by periodically attending 3 different quarters of Web Design 1 classes helped me in completing this stage. At the time, my learning felt piece-meal and I would have preferred to have the time to attend all of the classes as a full-time student. But, I soon realized that every little bit of training was worth it. In most cases, I was able to figure out what I needed to do and troubleshoot common errors within the code.



As you will see when clicking on the main navigation at the top of the page, some of the sections are still under construction including the "Work" section and the "Research" section. This website is an ongoing project of mine that will change every year and I intend to add those sections and keep the current content updated on a regular basis. I believe I've made big strides this year, and in turn, have been able to help students with their websites. With this as one of my ultimate teaching goals, I participated in several training opportunities to make this possible.

2 Web and Flash Training

Over the past year, I was able to take Web Design 1 two different times — one with Alicia Cerullo and one with Josh Sager. I had also taken a Web Design 1 class the previous year. This allowed me to not only learn as much as I could about web design, but I was able to observe two different and equally successful approaches to teaching the content.

I was also able to take the Web Design 2 and Interactive Multimedia (Flash) class with Josh Sager. While I was not able to attend all of the classes due to my teaching responsibilities, I was able to solidify my web skills enough that I have been able to help many more students than I was able to before.

I am also better able to create web material on my own. I was surprised at how different troubleshooting other people's websites was compared to creating and developing my own. It would seem that knowing how to do create websites on your own would make you capable of troubleshooting student work. But, it is more complicated than that and often deceivingly hard to do. Knowing the code well enough to scan it in seconds and find the inconsistencies will take time for me to master. Although I am much better at it now and am very proud of my progress, I plan to continue improving my skills in this area.

Some of the projects and exercises that I completed and helped me learn these skills included:

  • Online magazine article
  • Content mapping and labeling
  • E-newsletter
  • Teaching portfolio website
  • Bouncing ball
  • Superhero exercise
  • Animated quote
Online magazine article, page 1

Online magazine article, page 1, created with HTML and CSS

Online magazine article, page 2

Online magazine article, page 2, created with HTML and CSS

eNewsletter web page

eNewsletter, created with HTML and CSS

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Work in Progress – Flash: Animated Quote: "I care not for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not better for it." - Abraham Lincoln

Following is a list of the courses I have attended:

  • Web Design 1, Alicia Cerullo (2009, 2010)
  • Web Design 1, Josh Sager (2010)
  • Web Design 2, Josh Sager (2010, 2011)
  • Interactive Multimedia, Frank Schurter (2009)
  • Interactive Multimedia, Josh Sager (2011)

3 Curriculum Development

My curriculum development for 2010 was focused on four courses:

  • Project Development
  • Design 3
  • Portfolio Development 1
  • Portfolio Development 2

Project Development was being taught out this year and replaced with Design 3. This was a decision made by the Graphic Design/Multimedia department chair and faculty due to the difficulty in acquiring and maintaining repeat ILP clients in addition to reevaluating what skills students need to find gainful employment upon graduation. Although much of the information in the Project Development class was valuable, especially information regarding freelancing and students working with “live” clients, it seemed to be a luxury that we could not afford due to the new requirements and time constraints related to the Graphic Design curriculum and the Portfolio requirements. We decided that much of the information and experience gained in the class, although valuable at higher levels, could be learned at an internship or at the student's first job. The removal of this course was not taken lightly and careful consideration was given to the removal of the competencies making sure that it would not prevent students from being hired for full-time, entry-level graphic design positions.

One of the challenges of the Project Development course was in acquiring adaptable clients who were willing to work with a 2-3 month turn-around time. The process also required that the client be an active participant in the process, visiting classes and communicating directly with student team leaders. As you know, this sort of timeframe is often out of the question for start-up businesses and non-profit organizations, which tended to be the types of companies we worked with. The project needed to be “real” and complex enough for the students to have enough to do, but the client had to be very flexible with the time frame and selection process. Then, there was the question of business ethics and whether by working with new businesses, we were taking jobs away from our own industry professionals. This is an ongoing discussion and you'll find just as many opinions as you will types of projects. While I do think at the time the course was written, in 2000, it was an effective course, now I’m afraid that clients want their work much sooner than later and are not willing to accommodate lessons and learning time between design and production stages.

One exception to this challenge is working with Mike Betters, a 1997 PTI graduate who is the production director for Pittsburgh Sports Report. In addition to their regular newspaper, PSR publishes a monthly, KidSports Magazine targeted to parents with children ages 6-15 who are involved in sports. It's a free, community magazine that can be found at Dick's Sporting Goods and Giant Eagle. Most of the articles are targeted to parents and include information about nutrition, health and safety issues. But, there is a center spread that features cartoons, games, puzzles and activities for kids age 6-15, much like those found in "Highlights Magazine." What's different about this job as compared to other ILP's is that the deadline is consistent and occurs on a monthly basis. Designs for the upcoming month are due the 15th of the previous month. The content is also consistent. Each spread contains a combination of three to four puzzles, games, riddles and activities presented within a sports or seasonal theme. The spread also features an interview with a local sports hero and an adoptable pet from Animal Friends.

Mike is very flexible with the student's design and illustration style and often comes to the school for the initial meeting to discuss requirements. Students are hand selected to participate in the outside of class assignment based on their professionalism, work ethic, drawing skills and design skills. One of the GD instructors, then, works with the student to coach them on developing the layout in addition to communicating with the client often via email or phone. The PTI logo is featured on the printed magazine and the student's name is also printed for credit, which makes for an excellent portfolio piece. This ILP is ideal, but does not require an entire course. I do plan to continue this process started by Laurie Tudor, in order to give those advanced students an additional, outside of class assignment and a "live job" experience.

Following are some of the solutions from the past year of working on this project:

GDA260 Project Development: KidSports Magazine Spread Design for September 2010

GDA260 Project Development: KidSports Magazine Spread Design for September 2010

GDA260 Project Development: KidSports Magazine Spread Design for October 2010

GDA260 Project Development: KidSports Magazine Spread Design for October 2010

GDA260 Project Development: KidSports Magazine Spread Design for November 2010

GDA260 Project Development: KidSports Magazine Spread Design for November 2010

GDA260 Project Development: KidSports Magazine Spread Design for January 2011

GDA260 Project Development: KidSports Magazine Spread Design for January 2011

Another concern I had about the teach-out of the Project Development course was the possibility of losing the detailed content we had developed over the past 10 years. After discussing this with other faculty members, we decided to transfer some of the existing content from Project Development over to the Design 3 course. Part of the original course involved students preparing their PDF portfolios for internship interviews. Their portfolios would be submitted at the end of 6th quarter, then forwarded to Career Services to be sent out to possible internship sites at the beginning on 7th quarter. This same process was then rolled into Portfolio 1 class where the students took their PDF portfolio design and created a portfolio website using similar design elements. In addition to keeping the PDF portfolio in the Design 3 course as a requirement, I’ve also made the freelance information from various graphic design freelance resources, including creativepublic.com, available on Blackboard and in Class Files to those students enrolled in the class. Materials avialable to the students include a print design price guide, a print questionnaire, and terms and conditions.

The Design 3 course was launched for the first time in 2010 and has been taught a total of 2 times this year. The first time it was taught, there were two groups of about 18-20 students. The students seemed to benefit from developing their websites in the class and carrying them over to Portfolio 1 class. We were also able to get into some advanced composition techniques and typography approaches.

Logo Development Lecture

GDA265 Design 3: Logo Development Lecture

Material that was added to the Design 3 course that was not in the Project Development course included advanced composition and layout techniques including horizontal, vertical and diagonal composition, the rule of thirds, reading direction, border activation and the use of grids and dynamic spacing. The results of the assignments related to these competencies were far above what I thought the students could do. They were very adept at solving these problems and it was refreshing to see that they were more interested in the theory than we thought they would be. The second half of Design 3 was focused on individual logo development and the PDF portfolio. This material was very similar to what was in the Project Development class, but the portfolio website was added.

Grids Lecture 1

GDA265 Design 3: Grids Lecture

Finally, we made changes to the Portfolio Development 1 and 2 courses. We added a requirement that at least one Flash piece and one Web piece (in addition to their portfolio website) would be completed by the end of Portfolio 2. The Students tend to lean toward print since they are more familiar with it, so these requirements pushed them to include samples showing their web and interactive skills, which makes them more marketable. Students were also required to develop a shell to house all of their samples. This shell had to reflect their identity and help organize and display their work consistently and professionally.

Due to the additional requirements, some of the old requirements were eliminated. The Industry Advisor is no longer a requirement, but is discussed in class and encouraged. Instead of students reading the textbook and writing summaries, PowerPoints with key information were developed for each chapter and reviewed within 15-20 minutes during class time. The internship paper was also removed as a requirement due to time constraints.

To make the submissions more flexible and varied, we decided to alternate individual submissions with campaign submissions. Previously, all portfolio submissions were campaign submissions that consisted of 3 pieces per campaign. This started to be too constraining and repetitive. By studying the results from the class, we found that students were leaving out effective samples of individual pieces like technical illustrations if they did not fit into a campaign.

I have always been a proponent of showing exemplary student work in my classes so students know what level can be achieved. However, it was always hard for me to get my hands on a completed and well-designed portfolio. I would "borrow" portfolios from graduating students and show them on the first day of class, but often did not have access to them at midterm or throughout the quarter when students had questions. It is always easier to show a student what the expectation is instead of describing it verbally. With this in mind, we started a trend where we asked the first, second and third place winners of the portfolio show to reproduce their portfolio for us to use as a sample. The department provided the portfolio case and thumbnail booklet. At first, we thought the students would not want to spend the time to recreate their portfolio. But to our surprise, all three students reproduced their work down to the thumbnails and mock-ups. Now, we have three excellent, completed portfolios that we can use to show the class. Graduates Bruce McElroy, Chrissy Pipetti and Lindsay Milford were generous enough to leave us with professional samples of their completed portfolio. These same portfolios are also displayed at the front of the Graphic Design/Multimedia office for the admissions representatives to use as visuals during tours.

Additional Accomplishments and Activities

1 Professional Development

In addition to improving my web and interactive skills by taking web and Flash classes, not to mention observing different teaching approaches for these subjects, I participated in the following professional development activities:

  • Summer: October 2010, Full-Time Faculty In-Service - Departmental Initiatives
  • Spring: Blackboard Learn 9.1 - Upgrade Training
  • Winter: Plan for Learning
  • Winter: January 2010, Full-Time Faculty In-Service
  • Winter: Facilitator, January 2010, Faculty In-Service - GD Developing Design 3 Curriculum

2 Assessment/WIDS Coordinator

During this past year, I have continued as the Assessment/WIDs Coordinator for the Graphic Design Department. I attend WIDs coordinator meetings to discuss the best approach for reaching curriculum and assessment goals for each quarter. I also work directly with faculty to help them complete "SLO Matrices" or "Student Learning Outcomes Matrices" for each course that is taught in a given quarter. The SLOs allow teachers to review competencies, assignments and teaching approaches in and easy to use form, so the reviews can be shared and/or improved upon the next time the course is taught. By reflecting on each class, we can make any necessary changes and all of the instructors who teach the course are informed and have input regarding suggestions and improvements. The SLOs also allow us to compare our courses in different ways, from varying class sizes to time of year to varying teaching techniques of different instructors.

In addition to working with assessment, I had the opportunity to assist in launching a First Year Portfolio Review. As a group, the graphic design department determined which assignments students should submit at the end of their first year. The projects needed to display the most important skills they learned from quarters 1-4. The graphic design instructors then took a day to review the submissions. We paired up and used a rubric to assess the main competencies from their first year of education. The results allowed us to target some key areas where students need to improve and areas where they are mastering the competencies. Since we were only able to conduct the assessment one time, we will need to wait to see the long-term results.

3 Student Feedback

I am always glad to hear from students who have graduated and found a job. It's so rewarding to know that they received the skills they needed from their education to find employment in their field of study. It's also encouraging to hear from students who notice and appreciate the effort you put forth in the classroom. Here are a few examples of emails I received this year from students I've had the opportunity to work with.

Thank You Email from Jessica Schultz

Thank You Email from Casey Worthing

Thank You Email from Bruce McElroy

4 SSI Results for 2010

The Student Survey of Instruction issued by PTI at the end of each quarter is one way that I keep track of the ups and downs of my teaching strategies and assess how the students perceive my approach. Although I have to be careful to look at the percentage of students who actually responded to the survey, it gives me an overview of some of the things I'm doing well and some improvements I can make the next time I teach the class. Following are some of my survey results for 2010 and the beginning of 2011.

5 Peer Feedback

My colleagues and I work so closely together to help students and each other. We are forever bouncing ideas off of one another and asking for help when we need it. I don't go through a day without a good laugh, which is such a relief in what can sometimes be a stressful environment. It's also great to be part of a department that discusses ideas openly and listens to other's opinions. The teachers I work with are dedicated and I've learned so much from every one of them. I feel especially fortunate to work with such a wonderful group of people. With that in mind, I am honored to present a recommendation letter from one of my colleagues, Darrell Bruno, a Master Instructor at PTI.

2011 Goals

1 Continue to Refine and Improve Web and Interactive Skills

The most important goal I have over the next year is to continue to learn web and interactive skills. I am confidant that I have made great strides over the past year and that I can better help students with their websites and Flash content. However, I am still not an expert and would like to strive to get to that point.

With web design, I have gained a solid understanding of the complexity of content development and organization. I can also trouble shoot some common problems students have when working with code. This has allowed me to help with Portfolio Websites in Design 3, Portfolio Development 1, Portfolio Development 2, Web Design 1 and Web Design 2 classes. Achieving this has made me a better asset to our department now that I can assist in 5 additional classes using skills I did not previously have. I believe this is a big accomplishment and I am very proud of myself for achieving this goal. It was not always easy or something that came naturally to me like drawing, painting and design. The value of this skill to our students means the difference between being employed and not, so I was determined not to let them down. Now, for this coming year, I can increase my web and Flash skills even further.

2 Continue to Develop and Revise Graphic Design Curriculum

Another goal of mine is to lead the Graphic Design team in continuing to develop and revise curriculum. I am very much interested in assessment and whether we are teaching students in the best way possible. I want to provide the best service possible with the amount of time and energy I have.

One of my goals is to strengthen the curriculum we already have. As a designer, I believe that less is more and I think that same approach can work for curriculum and course design. Piling too much content into a class does not necessarily yield capable students. I think we really need to look at our courses and pair them down to the basic necessities, continually asking the question, “What do they need to know in order to gain employment upon graduation.” That is the goal, for students to get jobs using these skills. There has to be a balance, though. Making the content too industry driven can lead to dry content and graphic design students need to also exercise their creativity. One of the questions I want to continually ask my fellow instructors and myself is, "What is the absolute best way we can teach this information?" It’s easy to fall into common patterns of doing things the way you’ve always done them, especially after you’ve been teaching for a while. I would like to lead the Graphic Design team in assessing what we teach and how we teach. This will be especially important during the next year as we move from a 24-month program to a 21-month program.

3 Become More Accessible and Visible to the Students

My third goal is to become more accessible and visible to the students through texting, Twitter, Facebook, websites and other social networking media. This is their language and although it’s not as familiar to me, it is a good way to stay in contact with current and previous PTI students. I’ve noticed that students are not even emailing as much as they used to, so that form of communication is even going by the wayside. I think if I reach out to them just a little bit, they'll be more likely to reach out to me. I also think it's important to remind the students that they need to communicate with their teachers and supervisors in ways that they might not be used to either. It might encourage them to pick up the phone or send me an email if they see that I'm attempting to contact them via Twitter or Facebook. I think uploading my design and teaching website will also allow students to get to know me a little better. They'll be able to see what I do and learn about my background and interests. It's at least worth a try and may help me better connect with my students!