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ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of visual communication designs published by the Public Affairs Unit of the Ahmadu Bello University Registry. The specific aim was to develop a prototype Visual Communications Resource that would serve as the ideal tool for advertising university undergraduate programmes, using perceptive principles of design that are capable of strongly impacting on prospective undergraduate students. In line with the principles of the Functional Context Learning Paradigm, an informed awareness led the study to the development of an undergraduate prospectus in print mode, based on the variables of typography, images and colours highlighted in the statement of the problem. The study explored a descriptive analysis to delineate the visual content which later guided the entire redesign procedure before administering them to respondents (prospective students) in clusters of Focus Groups. The results obtained from the analysis revealed that in spite of the limited media of advertising university courses, richly designed prospectuses seemed to be the preferred medium for educating and informing prospective students as well as their parents and guardians of the courses and extra-curricular options available. The conclusion of this study was that Visual Communications Materials that incorporate crisp digital images, simple array of texts and harmonious colours can have a great impact on the target audience it was being designed for: particularly, the prototype prospectus had a positive impact on prospective students that constituted the study population. The study finally recommended that the University Management in liaison with the Graphics section of the Department of Industrial design should endeavour to implement this concept for educating and informing prospective students in a more suitable, effective and sustainable manner.

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. i
Declaration ………………………………………………………………………………………………… ii
Certification ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. iii
Dedication …………………………………………………………………………………………………. iv
Acknowledgements ……………………………………………………………………………………… v
Table of Contents ……………………………………………………………………………………….. vi
List of Figures …………………………………………………………………………………………….. x
List of Tables …………………………………………………………………………………………….. xii
List of Plates …………………………………………………………………………………………….. xiii
List of Appendices …………………………………………………………………………………….. xvi
Abbreviations ………………………………………………………………………………………….. xvii
Operational Definition of Terms ……………………………………………………………….. xviii
Symbols …………………………………………………………………………………………………… xix
Abstract ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. xx
CHAPTER ONE ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 1
1.0. INTRODUCTION ………………………………………………………………………………. 1
1.1. Background of the Study …………………………………………………………………….. 1
1.2. Statement of the Problem …………………………………………………………………….. 4
1.3. Aim and Objectives of the Study …………………………………………………………… 5
1.4. Research Questions ……………………………………………………………………………… 6
1.5. Significance of the Study ………………………………………………………………………. 6
1.6. Justification of the Study …………………………………………………………………….. 7
1.7. Scope and Delimitation of the Study …………………………………………………….. 7
CHAPTER TWO ………………………………………………………………………………………. 8
2.0. LITERATURE REVIEW …………………………………………………………………….. 8
2.1. Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………… 8
2.1.1. Conceptual framework ………………………………………………………………………… 8
2.1.2. Theoretical framework ………………………………………………………………………… 9
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2.2. Visual Communications ……………………………………………………………………… 10
2.2.1. Information circulation characteristics …………………………………………………. 17
2.2.2. Elements of effective dissemination …………………………………………………….. 18
2.3. History of Print Layouts ……………………………………………………………………….. 20
2.3.1. The Bauhaus-Swiss style ……………………………………………………………………. 22
2.3.2. Grid system ………………………………………………………………………………………. 22
2.3.3. Push-Pin style …………………………………………………………………………………… 26
2.4. Review of Layout and Prospectus Designs …………………………………………… 28
2.5. Visual Elements in Layout Designs ……………………………………………………… 37
2.5.1. Line …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 38
2.5.2. Shape ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 38
2.5.3. Colour application in layout designs …………………………………………………… 39
2.5.4. Texture …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 40
2.5.5. Type ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 40
2.5.6. Imagery application in layout designs ………………………………………………….. 44
2.5.7. Relevance of aesthetics in layout designs …………………………………………….. 50
2.6. Branding Applications in Layout Designs ……………………………………………. 50
2.7. Computer and Communications Technology in Layout Designs ………….. 53
2.8. Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………… 54
CHAPTER THREE ………………………………………………………………………………… 56
3.0. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ………………………………………………………… 56
3.1. Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………. 56
3.2. Research Design …………………………………………………………………………………. 56
3.3. Population of the Study ………………………………………………………………………. 57
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3.4. Sampling Method ………………………………………………………………………………. 58
3.5. Data Collection ………………………………………………………………………………….. 60
3.6. Instrumentation …………………………………………………………………………………. 61
3.7. Instrument Validation ………………………………………………………………………… 62
CHAPTER FOUR …………………………………………………………………………………… 67
4.0. DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS ………………………………………. 67
4.1. Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………. 67
4.2. Analysis of Layout Designs …………………………………………………………………. 67
4.2.1. Use of colour in layout design …………………………………………………………….. 80
4.2.2. Use of types in layout design …………………………………………………………….. 82
4.2.3. Use of images in layout design …………………………………………………………… 82
4.2.4. Paper and print quality in layout design ………………………………………………. 85
4.3. Focus Group Discussions ……………………………………………………………………. 88
4.4. Discussion of Results ………………………………………………………………………… 106
4.5. Summary of Findings ……………………………………………………………………….. 112
CHAPTER FIVE …………………………………………………………………………………… 116
5.0. SUMMARY CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION ………………. 116
5.1. Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………….. 116
5.2. Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………. 116
5.3. Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 118
5.4. Recommendations ……………………………………………………………………………. 119
5.5. Implication for Further Study …………………………………………………………… 120
5.6. Pitfalls of the Research ……………………………………………………………………… 121
ix
REFERENCES ………………………………………………………………………………………. 122
APPENDICES ………………………………………………………………………………………. 132
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CHAPTER ONE

1.0. Introduction
1.1. Background of the Study The publication unit of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) is a specialised unit in the Registry department charged with the strategic responsibility of circulating information within and outside the University, using various media such as telephone, fax, TV, posters, prospectuses, journals, bulletins, calendars and more recently, the World Wide Web (www). The Public Affairs Directorate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria started in 1975, as a small unit under the Registry called Information Office with a few intermediate and junior staff, with the Deputy Registrar, as head. The basic functions of the unit then were mainly to publish and distribute information pamphlets for the University within the two campuses at Samaru and Kongo. The office saw major changes in its structure and functions between 1986 and 1989 when the office was changed to Information and Protocol Unit. The unit was upgraded to a full-fledged department in 2006 (www.abu.edu.ng/centreinstitute/). Five units were created out of the department to handle critical and key functions such as protocol, public relations, immigrations, ceremonies, information and publications. The Public Affairs Department was later transferred to the Registry.
After a study tour to some universities, the Head of Department recommended the return of the Department to the Vice Chancellor‟s office. The Vice Chancellor obliged to the recommendations and further upgraded the Public Affairs office to the level of a Directorate in 2013. To cope with the new status, the Public Affairs Directorate is currently making efforts to establish cadres and structures that would professionalize its services,
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which includes: Press Relations, Community Relations, Designing, Implementing, Managing and Content Development of News Items and Social Media sites for University‟s Website. In addition to the Internet, all the media sources listed above are still very effective in most developed Nations. In the case of ABU, the Internet has become the media that has represented a significant chunk of the total information circulated by the University despite the low patronage of Internet among Nigerians and Africans in general. Regional differences are quite significant as 86.9 percent and 70.4 percent of North Americans and Europeans respectively are on the Internet, compared to only 25.9 percent of Africans which have significantly grown from 9.6 percent in 2010 (International Telecommunication Union, 2014). The most recent plan in the reorganisation transition of the Public Affairs Directorate is to overhaul the entire central operating unit of the Registry to enhance communications, good span of control, quick and quality decisions as well as quick implementation with good results and feedback. Quality assurance and ethical practices are the overall strategic goals and major concern in the reorganisation of the ABU registry as mandated at the 124th, 139th and 141st meetings of the Governing Council held in February 2007, April 2010 and November 2010 respectively (ABU Special Bulletin, 13th April 2011). The simplicity and functionality of the structure is expected to provide an instinctive inspiration from the Head of unit down to the other members of staff. The staff becomes reliable and trusted to exercise a good degree of initiative and relative autonomy to take proactive actions based on established order. The various units under the registry have been designed to handle specific areas of operations, responsibilities and scope.
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Figure 1: The New Organogram of the Ahmadu Bello University Registry, Source: ABU Special Bulletin, (2011)
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Figure 1 graphically delineates the organisational structure of the registry. Other field units are also designed to execute specific responsibilities as dictated by specific functionalities. Within the structure, however, managers are placed to strategically handle units and the effectiveness of the structure depends entirely on the ability of the managers to work as a team with efficient coordination. This situation analysis calls for the need to further investigate the functional issues raised in this study background, with a view to proffer practical graphic solutions using the perceptive concepts and theories drawn from the review of literature. 1.2. Statement of the Problem The ABU Special Bulletin, (2011) reported that the information and publication unit specifically does not have a well organised modern operating procedure that would enhance flow of communication, good span of information/communications control, and expected results with a significant feedback. Telephone, fax, TV, Video, posters, prospectuses, journals, bulletins, calendars, maps and the Internet are the various media prescribed by the publication unit for circulating information; unfortunately, most of these sources have not been effectively harnessed except for journals, special bulletins and the Internet.
Through a thrifty situation analysis, it was observed that the university maps and undergraduate prospectuses are the visual communication materials that are completely out of publication and production despite the continuous impact maps and prospectuses make globally. Prospectuses in particular were last published in 1984/1986. From 1986,
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there have been noticeable and tremendous global developments in the area of design, printing, products and digital equipment which have transformed the layout of visual communication materials entirely. As such, prospectuses and all other visual communication materials ought to be regularly redesigned, reproduced and circulated to their consumers. Apart from being obviously outdated, the existing edition of the undergraduate prospectus has some shortfalls, and does not seem to represent modern graphic and visual communications standards. When viewed at a glance, one perceives a lack of aesthetic appeal because of the poor design concepts of the document‟s layout. The design layout of the prospectus has four glaring features that summarise its flaws. The absence of colours; The low quality of images; The improper use of typographic elements; and Low paper and print quality
Based on this informed awareness within a functional context, the state of ABU prospectus raises the need to redesign a visual communications resource for advertising undergraduate programmes. 1.3. Aim and Objectives of the Study The aim of the study is to assess the impact of visual communication design through exploring solutions with design tools, theories and perceptual principles; while the objectives are to:
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(i) Assess the quality of the visual communication (VC) materials produced by the Publication unit;
(ii) Examine the impact of the materials on the target audience;
(iii) Develop a prototype print design template for an undergraduate prospectus for Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
1.4. Research Questions From the problems and objectives of this study, the following research questions are raised:
(i) What is the quality of the existing ABU prospectus produced by the publication unit?
(ii) How have those materials impacted on the target audience and what results have they actually produced?
(iii) What principal elements and principles of design are essential in developing a prototype of ABU Undergraduate prospectus?
1.5. Significance of the Study Redesigning layout concepts and prototype of an undergraduate prospectus for Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria will:
(i) Sensitise prospective students on academic and extra-curricular options available through the use of an effective prospectus dissemination,
(ii) Help the University to further advertise her key selling points by a way of redesign of its undergraduate prospectus with a view to reaching out to more prospective students.
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1.6. Justification of the Study Through an informed awareness, it was observed that a lot of prospective undergraduates find difficulties in accessing relevant information pertaining to university programmes due to insufficient information. Based on this informed awareness within a functional context, redesigning, developing and circulating visual communications materials that would function as the lead advertising tool for undergraduate programmes, will also project the culture, environment, social life, sports facilities and several activities that will sustainably inform and educate prospective students, parents and visitors about A.B.U. 1.7. Scope and Delimitation of the Study Layout principles that enhance the appeal of visual communication materials come into play in a wide range of media such as print, broadcast, the Internet, outdoor advertising, and way findings, to mention a few. Each aspect of these visual communication designs is broad in its own sense. As such, the scope of this study is delimited to the print and publication design templates for an undergraduate prospectus for Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.
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