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FLEXO Magazine : October 2009
22 FLEXO OCTOBER 2009 www.flexography.org The High Touch Study Reveals the Influences for Pursuing Graphic Communication Careers By Daniel G. Wilson and Stacy Birk • "High-touch" experiences are required to motivate students to pursue graphic communication careers. • Of the 84 students who chose to respond, 24 were graphic design students while 60 students were en- rolled in print production-oriented degree programs. • High school graphic communication technology class- es were by far the strongest influence for students to choose college majors in graphic communication. • Print providers and supply companies must get in- volved in the recruiting process. The Print and Graphic Scholarship Foundation (PGSF) and Illinois State University undertook a study to exam- ine how PGSF recipients were influenced to pursue a career in print-production-oriented graphic communication programs. The goal of the study was to better understand these influences as a means of suggesting the most prag- matic methods for increasing the number of high-achieving students seeking professional opportunities in the graphic communication industry. The research design for this study involved two phases. The first phase involved a group of graphic communication educators at the high school, two-year, and four-year college levels. This group developed a list of 24 potential influences, ranging from learning about the field on websites to receiv- ing help from career counselors. The second phase of the study involved surveying all college students receiving the PGSF scholarship award. The Web-based survey asked the students to rate those factors that most influenced them to choose a career in graphic communication. The students were also asked to add additional influences as well. The resulting data strongly suggest that high-touch" expe- riences are required to motivate students to pursue graphic communication careers. High school graphic communication classes were the strongest influence for students to choose college majors in graphic communication. Experience on yearbook clubs and employment in printing companies were also highly influential. It also appears from the data that just reading or viewing information about the industry is not highly influential. Also career counselors, peers, and family have minimal influence in these students' career choices. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY The research design for this study involved two phases. A mix of faculty leaders in high school, two-year, and four- year college graphic communication programs developed a list of potential influences. This was done over a span of three rounds in a Delphi group activity. The list produced 24 potential influences. The second phase of the study involved surveying 217 college students who were receiving the PGSF scholarship award for the 2008 academic year. Of the 84 stu- dents who chose to respond, 24 were graphic design students while 60 students were enrolled in print production-oriented degree programs. These 60 students' responses were used for data analysis and are a sample that can be statistically extrapolated to all high-achieving, motivated young people pursuing production-oriented graphic communication majors at two-year and four-year colleges and universities through- out the U.S. A Web-based survey was used for data collection and included an unordered list of the 24 potential influences developed by the expert panel. Participants were asked to rate each influence as Not Applicable (N/A) meaning it had no influence or from one (minimally applicable) to four (most applicable), meaning it was highly influential toward their decision to pursue a career in graphic communication. Stu- dents were asked to add influences not thought of when they responded, but no new influences were suggested. RESULTS Student responses were analyzed on two separate but inter- related scales (Table 1). The N" scale, or the number of students who rated the influence as having significance, provides insight into how common the influence is to this group of students. For example, almost all students surveyed (51 out of 60) were influenced by learning graphics applications on their own, as a hobby, while very few (26 out of 60) students were influenced by a visit from a college representative to their high school. While the N" measure shows how common the influence is, it does INDUSTRY INDICATORS
Sustainable Fall 2009