Senior Project

The Graphic Communication department requires a two-course sequence for Senior Projects. The first course, GRC 460, Research Methods in Graphic Communication, is taken two quarters prior to graduation. In this course the student develops her/his project idea and completes the first three chapters of the Senior Project: (I) Introduction and Purpose of Study, (II) Literature Review, and (III) Research Method(s).

The second course, GRC 461, Senior Project, is taken the quarter in which the student expects to graduate. There is one class meeting for GRC 461, the remaining time involves directed study where the student works with a Senior Project faculty advisor who has been assigned.

GrC 460 - Research Methods In Graphic Communication

I. Course Description

Introduction to research methods for preparing scholarly and defensible papers and Senior Projects and in conducting qualitative and quantitative evaluations, testing, and research in graphic communication. Methods covered include statistical, historical, descriptive, questionnaires, interviewing, content analysis, and sampling.

The goal of this class is to guide students through the first three chapters of their Senior Project. The class meets formally for the first six weeks of the quarter during which the student learns about Cal Poly research resources, how to select the proper research method(s) for the study being undertaken, and how to write clear and concise technical and research reports. During the final four weeks of the quarter, the students work independently for the most part and report to the weekly lab sessions for chapter refinements and to consult with the professor.

Team projects with no more than two students per team are permitted. In such cases the complexity of the project must reflect a time requirement warranting two students.


II. Required Prerequisite Preparation

Senior status and two quarters prior to completing curriculum requirements.


III. Expected Outcomes

  1. Skills in clear, concise, and scholarly writing
  2. An awareness of sources of data in graphic communication, i. e., institutions, foundations, organizations, libraries, publications
  3. A knowledge of quantitative methods for measuring, organizing, testing, and validating data
  4. A knowledge of qualitative research methods including historical-descriptive data collection techniques and methods of content analysis
  5. A research plan for Senior Project
  6. Completion of first three chapters of Senior Project

IV. Required Reading

Levenson, Harvey Robert, Some Ideas About Doing Research In Graphic Communication.


V. Methods of Evaluating Outcomes

Completion of first three chapters of Senior Project in compliance with acceptable methods for valid and scholarly research (70% of final grade):

  1. Introduction and Purpose of Study
  2. Literature Review
  3. Research Methods and Procedures
  4. Quizzes - Between two (2) and four (4) quizzes will be given at the start of lab sessions (25% of final grade).
  5. Lecture and laboratory attendance, and participation during formal sessions (5% of final grade).

VI. Course Content

  • Introduction
  • The Structure of Senior Project Chapters I, II, and III
  • Cal Poly Research Resources
  • Writing Lab
  • Kennedy Library Data Base and Abstract Services
  • Statistical Consulting Service
  • Rules for Scholarly Writing
  • Asking Research Questions and Forming Hypotheses
  • Research Methods
  • Research Organizations in Graphic Communication
  • Publications as Sources of Data
  • Internet Search Engines and Data Bases
  • Constructing Questionnaires
  • The Scientific Method
  • Elite and Specialized Interviewing
  • Historical-Descriptive Research
  • Content Analysis

GrC 461 - Senior Project

Class meeting - First week of class

You will work with your assigned advisor to successfully complete your project. Students will be responsible for establishing individual schedules to submit chapter drafts of their results and conclusions, as well as submission of a completed project. Please work with your individual advisor for specific schedule expectations. Senior project submission requirements are located on the Cal Poly library website at: http://lib.calpoly.edu/research-and-help/seniorprojects/

Senior Project Layout

  • Title Page
  • Approval Page
  • Abstract
  • Acknowledgements (Optional)
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • Chapter I -Introduction
  • Chapter II - Literature Review
  • Chapter III - Research Methods and Procedures
  • Chapter IV - Results
  • Chapter V - Conclusions
  • Endnotes (If footnotes are not used) Must us either MLA, APA, or Chicago style
  • References
  • Appendix/Appendices (Optional)

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