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Thesis Projects | School of Visual Communication Design | Kent State University

M.A. and M.F.A. graduates develop innovative future practices, broaden scholarly research in visual design and make a meaningful contribution to society – all through the process of writing practical and scholarly thesis.

Graduates dive into design’s impact on issues in business, wayfinding and 3D design, finance, education, letterpress, healthcare and information management. Numerous graduates have jumpstarted their careers in graphic design from thesis projects.

Past thesis projects have answered questions such as how mobile technology can increase a child’s exposure to outdoor play; how explaining a student’s educational loan debt visually might influence borrowing decisions; and how companies as large as Microsoft could improve recruitment technology for mobile job-seekers.

View an archive of thesis projects that are unavailable digitally here.

Recently Completed Thesis Projects 

Design Education for Ugandan Secondary Schools

By Penina Acayo

Uganda has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite this
predicament, young adults have the ability and the capacity to drive positive social change and
economic growth, if given the appropriate resources and opportunities” (International Youth
Foundation, 2011). Read more.


Developing an Arabic Typography Course for Visual Communication Design Students in the Middle East and North African Region

By Basma Almusallam

Typography is one of the main elements of visual communication design. Acquiring good typographical skills is crucial for designers to effectively convey information and meaning. These skills should be taught in schools by applying a proper typographic foundation and improving skills through experience. Read more.


Designing for Education Debt Management: Improving Student Financial Experiences Through Design

By Jason Bacher

For a growing number of students, education debt is becoming a familiar and common reality. Borrowing money for a college education is unlike any financial experience that exists today. Unlike taking out a loan for a car or a mortgage for a home, students enroll in a cycle of continuous investing-potentially carrying on for a lifetime. Read more.


Decentralized Design Management: Managing People and the Design Process for a Geographically Dispersed Creative Team

By Brian Buirge

Collaboration is a key factor to fostering innovation, and in the creative economy innovation is indispensable to success. Advances in technology are evolving the ways in which designers, as well as people in every profession, collaborate. The growth of social networking, instant messaging, web conferencing, online project management, and even distance learning are clear indicators of this evolution. Read more.


From the Wall to the Web: A Microformat for Visual Art

By Emir Bukva

When I was an undergraduate student at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, I worked for the Art History department. My job was to digitize as many 35 mm analog slides as I could from a library of thousands. Read more.


Capturing the Present, Engaging the Future: Designing a Social History Network in a Digital Age

By Aimee Crane

For thousands of years, stories have been the ultimate source and basic instruction for human emotion and understanding. Stories operate on many levels and communicate on multiple ways that we as humans understand and appreciate. Read more.


An Informed Emergency: Improving Patient Comfort and Comprehension in and After the Emergency Department

By Ben Dansby

Several months before beginning this thesis project, I was struck one day with a pain in my abdomen that had me literally writhing on the ground. I called a friend, and through gritted teeth, I asked if he could take me to the emergency room. Read more


Application of the Deconstructive Discourse as a Generative Thinking Framework

By Daniel Echeverri

Strategies, systems, experiences and services are part of the new challenges faced today by design students and designers. These challenges include shifting audiences with specific needs due to the broad offer of services and products that often create new needs. These needs include limited resources, sustainable solutions with low environmental impact, and production costs. Read more.


SYNC IN PROGRESS: Connecting the Technology Gap Between Gen Y Students and Their Professors

By Jason Goupil

The Millennials are a group, born from 1977-1994, that have experienced great technological advancements during their formative years as children. Cell phones, computers, the internet, social networks, video games, ipods, digital tablets, and GPS have impacted their lives in big ways. Read more


Painting hereos: Using illustration to improve the standing of baseball in the inner city

By Stephen Hughes

This thesis explores the development of a series of illustrated portraits of current African American baseball players. It documents the artistic process and research necessary to make a narrative painting. Read more


Teaching Design Concepts through Letterpress

By Robert Keleman

Teaching Design Concepts through Letterpress Are tactile and visual demonstrations using letterpress equipment useful in teaching basic design concepts to undergraduate graphic design students? College freshmen have grown up with the computer as a learning tool. Read more


Private Labels and Personal Care: A Focus on Store Brand Package Design, Branding Design and Consumer Attitudes Towards Private Label Personal Care Products

By Larrie King

National manufacturer brands generally outsell private label brands in most product areas. For instance, Hoyer and Brown found that when inexperienced buyers were asked to decide between two brands, they were more likely to choose the brand name with which they were most familiar. However, during periods of economic distress, consumers tend to purchase store brand products, as they are generally less expensive than those branded nationally. Read more.


Small Businesses and Their Perceived Value of Design

By Ian McCullough

This study is a study of small business owners and their perceptions on graphic design. The basis for this study was to gain an understanding of whether or not small businesses view professional graphic design as a beneficial service worth pursuing, and why or why not they are employing the services of professional designers. Read more.


Note-taking and Information Retention and Recall

By Gary Meacher

Information retention is paramount to the education process. There is not a single act in academia that does not require extensive information recall. Beginning with the middle school grades, teachers increasingly rely on the lecture method of instruction. Incidentally, the middle grades are a critical period in the instruction of study skills as the students in that age range are developmentally ready to become strategic learners. Read more


The American Craftsman: A Contemporary Revival

By Nathanael Mucha

Beginning with the Arts and Crafts period in the 1800s, craft has established itself as a vital cultural and socio-economic force in Western society. As the original movement cooled at the beginning of the 20th century, it evolved under the pressures generated by World War I and II taking on different forms as it influenced various art movements. Read more


Combining Digital Media and Unstructured, Outdoor Play in Order to Foster Healthy Child Development

By Amy Dwyer Peck

More and more, children are spending time indoors in front of a television, computer or electronic gaming device. They are not spending time outside playing and interacting with other children and the natural world around them. Another aspect limiting children's opportunities for unstructured, outdoor play is their parent’s fear of the outside world, and a need to over-schedule, creating perfectly controlled environments for their children. Read more


Usability of WordPress for Visual Communication Designers

By Victoria Pickett

WordPress is currently the most popular content management system. The popularity of content management systems is that they allow websites to be built and maintained by nontechnical users without requiring a programmer. This thesis looks at the usability of the WordPress Dashboard interface for visual communication designers. Read more.


Online Learning as a Tool for Enhancing Design Education

By Jason Richburg

Universities are under great pressure to lower costs and operate more efficiently. This fact has lead to the widespread adoption of distance learning as a means of delivering curriculum. Due to the fiscal demands of their universities, and in response to changes occurring in the professional realm, many design departments find themselves needing to adapt. Read more


Business Environmental Design, Consumer Visual Literacy and Self-Concept

By Sarah Rutherford

This research explores the hypothesis that the identity and environmental design of a business, whether created intentionally or not, attracts customers because it affirms some aspect of the customer’s self-concept. Read more


Environmental Graphic Design Changing the Perceptions of Divided Communities through Cultural and Social Connectivity

By Andrew Schwanbeck

Urban segregation occurs when a city’s diversities create perceived barriers around concentrated clusters of social groups. When these divisions are extreme enough, communities become shut off from the rest of the city and often fall into a perpetual cycle struggle and degradation. Read more


The Dynamic Electronic Textbook: Enhancing the Student's Learning Experience

By Kayne Toukonen

This thesis examines how contemporary education theory could support and justify certain advanced e-textbook design features, enhancing the student’s learning experience and fostering educational growth. Read more


Diamond in the Rough: Telling the Story of Hough's League Park with Temporary Environmental Graphic Design

By Jennifer Vokoun

In Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood at the corner of East 66th and Lexington Avenue sits an abandoned brick building in front of a large open field. This is the only physical remnant of League Park, the ballpark where Cleveland’s professional baseball teams played from 1891 to 1950. For many this space is hallowed ground, rich in baseball history and Cleveland history. Read more


Social Media as a Meas of Promoting Peer-Based Learning in Design Education

By Adina (Feigenbaum) Warshawsky

Critique is an integral part of design education whereby students review and evaluate projects in order to learn design principles and develop skills such as self-evaluation and giving constructive feedback to others. Read more.


Design Interjection for Business Incubators

By Todd Wendorff

No matter how an entrepreneur defines failure, statistics on the success rate of start-up businesses is disheartening. Around 30 to 40 percent of start-up businesses liquidate all assets, losing all investor funding, while 70 to 80 percent fail to produce the projected return on investment. There is a strong need for effective incubation facilities which compress the learning curves of the start-ups and provide them with necessary initial support in order to improve their sustainability. Read more.


Using Design Strategy to add Value to a Political Campaign

By Lee Zelenak

At the onset of a project, the first question designers like to ask is: why? It seems like such a simple question and yet far too often it goes unanswered, or the answer is, 'Because we have always done it like this.' What has always attracted me to the concept of design strategy is that it provides a platform to help design better understood goals, objectives, and possibilities, while also providing tangible results showing better outcomes. Read more


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