Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Art and Design

First Advisor

Debra Satterfield


Existing teaching tools for learning software in undergraduate graphic design programs include videos, lengthy tutorial books, and teacher-led in class demos. Based on several interviews with faculty at differently sized colleges and universities, I ordered the preceding methods by popularity of use. Most instructors in four year graphic design programs expected students to learn Adobe software and HTML/CSS for screen design through video-based learning outside of class. When I interviewed students, their least preferred method for learning software was videos, followed by textbook tutorials. Their most preferred method was teacher-led demos as it created authenticity and trust between themselves and their instructor. They believed that their instructor knew the topic and were there to help when they had questions. However, that method is the least used and considered ineffective by faculty interviewed. These methods are causing a growing disconnect between students and faculty, as expectations are vastly different.

It is imperative, therefore, to create teaching tools that encourage shared power in the classroom between student and instructor. Such tools help students co-create their learning environments, are life giving, and essential to building growth-fostering relationships. Empathy is essential and the foundation in building relationships.

In this study I further develop a rhetorical framework introduced in my MFA thesis work (Wiley 2012). This original framework was for developing and evaluating interaction designs within the context of user experience by incorporating empathy, connectivity, authenticity, and trust (E_CAT) into the process of design. In this dissertation I add spirituality to the framework, as I believe it is essential for college students to experience life giving learning environments in graphic design classrooms, and build meaningful relationships. The framework then becomes: empathy, connectivity, authenticity, trust, and spirituality (E_CATS) to provide a means of better understanding and meeting the needs and wants of undergraduate students in developing teaching tools.

Copyright Owner

Cyndi Wiley



File Format


File Size

176 pages