Course Code & No. - Section:

CORE101 – Section 3

Course Title (Credits):

SNC Freshman Experience (3) / Visual Communication

Term & Year:

Fall / 2014

Course Ref. No. (CRN):



Mary Kenny,


Donna Axton,



Mary-Holman Arts and Media Center  2nd floor
Donna-David Hall 1st Floor

Office Hours:

Class Meeting Time:

MW 9:00A – 11:15A


TCES 215





Instructors’ Profiles:

Mary is currently interested in creating works on paper which includes combining collage, printmaking, drawing and painting. These works on paper are explorations of media, idea and repetition. Many of the images she uses are borrowed from familiar printed material such as science textbooks, children’s books and parenting manuals. Mary has participated in numerous shows nationally and regionally, most recently a solo exhibition at the McKinley Arts Center in Reno, NV. Her prints are in the collection of Kent State University, Iowa State University, and Zygote Press among others. She is an associate professor at Sierra Nevada College teaching drawing, painting, printmaking and design.

Donna Axton spent 14 years touring the world as a pianist in Hoyt Axton’s Country Western, Boogie Woogie, Gospel, Rock and Roll Band. She played on 21 albums and co-produced two and appeared on dozens of television shows, including the Tonight Show. She has many writing, arranging and directing credits to her name and has directed, conducted and/or played for scores of local musical productions from community to professional levels. She is also known as a chamber music and solo piano performer.


The Mission Statement

Sierra Nevada College graduates will be educated to be scholars of and contributors to a sustainable world. Sierra Nevada College combines the liberal arts and professional preparedness through an interdisciplinary curriculum that emphasizes entrepreneurial thinking and environmental, social, economic and educational sustainability. [Note: SNC’s four core themes are emphasized in bold text.]


Course Description

This course is the common intellectual experience shared by all Sierra Nevada College students, employing variable topics grounded in the social sciences (economics, psychology, political science, anthropology, and sociology. Topics are selected from areas within art, business, humanities, and science to engage entering students while developing the critical skills necessary for a successful and stimulating college career. The learning objectives of the course will develop the abilities central to active, engaged learning. Those abilities include critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity/ innovation, oral communication, teamwork, peer critique, self-reflection, higher-order questioning, and active discussion.

Topic Description

Human beings are very visual creatures, and the visual component of communication can often overwhelm its other dimensions. This class looks at a variety of ways that people and organizations use visual media to communicate and persuade, training students to make their own visual communication more effective. We will address questions such as: How can text and image be used together to tell a story? How can you illustrate an idea? What's the difference between information and propaganda? Students will critique and create photographs, diagrams, infographics, illustrations, presentations, and video. Through this process, they will develop a greater understanding of the ways in which visual media are used to inform us and to manipulate us.

This course will explore the way we see, interpret and create images.  It provides a foundation for the  practice and understanding of the visual arts – art, film, television, digital media, advertising, and related media issues. Through a series of interdisciplinary readings, lectures and projects  we will explore the contemporary and historical visual culture.

Student Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, a student will: 

  •       Students will develop strong oral communication skills and proficiency with a variety of presentation formats. (Liberal Arts)
  •       Students will learn to identify complimentary team members, form effective teams and accomplish tasks in a team environment. (Professional Preparedness)
  •       Students will develop strong visual literacy skills that can be expressed in a variety of mediums. Students will be able to both communicate visually and interpret the visual communication of others. (Liberal Arts)
  •       Students will be able to use basic information literacy skills, including identification of sources, evaluation of sources and application of data, to support their projects.  (Liberal Arts)
  •       Students will have basic field investigation skills including identification of appropriate real-world sources of information, interview skills and field note creation. (Liberal Arts)

  •       Students will develop the tools to support creativity and innovation as applied to problem solving in real world environments, including brainstorming, solution generation and solution validation. (Entrepreneurial Thinking)
  •       Students will be comfortable both giving and receiving peer feedback and will demonstrate the ability to adapt their existing work based on this feedback.  (Professional Preparedness)
  •       Students will use of visual images that have significance or meaning within a given context and can be effectively used to support or enforce a concept. (Sustainability, Professional Preparedness, Entrepreneurial Thinking) (Topic Objective)

  • Student will use significant historical or contemporary visual references that support and enforce their intended concept. References are clearly suggested and easily recognized by most viewers. (Sustainability, Professional Preparedness ) (Topic Objective)
  • Students will create and use images that represent and communicate clear and accurate concepts, data and information. (Liberal Arts) (Topic Objective)

Methods of Assessing Student Outcomes

Student outcomes will be assessed through class participation and grades earned on the various exercises, challenges and oral presentations outlined below.

Assignments and Assessment: 1,000 Points possible
Module 1

Innovative Idea PechaKucha
In-class activities
Out-of-class activities
Module 1 Total

module 2

Community Challenge Presentation
Community Challenge Poster Presentation
Travel Content Assignments
In-class activities
Out-of-class activities
Module 2 Total

All assignments must be emailed to Mary and Donna before the start of class to be considered on time.  All assignments must be submitted in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Microsoft Powerpoint, or Prezi.  All files must be named: LastFirstCORE101Assignment

Innovative Idea PechaKucha:  This Innovation Challenge asks students to identify their own topic and develop their own solution to a pressing issue locally, nationally or internationally that relates to the topic of the course.  There is an expectation for both field and academic research, including interviews. The Innovation Challenge culminates in an individual presentation in PechaKucha format delivered in front of all the class sections. The PechaKucha will be accompanied by an informative, visually meaningful handout or giveaway that will be distributed to members of the class. (Outcome 1, 3, 4, 5,6)

Community Challenge Presentation: Students are introduced to a challenge posed by the leader of a local community organization in an area that is related to the class topic. Students will work in a 5-6 person team to research the problem and develop potential solutions to this challenge. Students are expected to do field research and interviews as well as academic research. Teams will present their solutions to the class and the community leader for feedback. Presentations will include a PowerPoint or Prezi that follows principles of visual literacy. (Outcome 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Community Challenge Poster Presentation: As their final project, Community Challenge Teams will integrate feedback and suggestions from the community organization representatives and peer critiques in order to refine their solutions as described at the Community Challenge presentation.  The point of this assignment is to focus on incorporating feedback, solution refinement and the iterative design process.  An important part of the evaluation process will be grading students on how effectively students were able to constructively incorporate suggestions and modify their solution in response to feedback. Visual literacy and effective poster design is also an important aspect of the evaluation and grading. This assignment will culminate in a campus-wide symposium event where students will present their ideas through a poster presentation. (Outcome 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

Content Assignments: (Outcome 8, 9, 10, 11)
1. Creativity Journal
2. Self Reflection (Photo-based Assignment)
3. Logo Designs
4. Campus Activities (5 required campus run activities)
5. Assignment #5 -TBA

In Class Activities – Some of your most important learning opportunities will arise during open, respectful discussion with your peers and through in-class activities.  For this reason, it is essential for you to attend and participate in class sessions. To encourage growth and risk taking, most of these assignments will be graded pass/fail, but your best effort is important to the success of the class. An example of the opportunities for in-class participation that you will be expected to participate during include:
Notes from the Field Presentations:  (Outcome 5)
Brainstorming Exercises: (Outcome 6)
Integrative Thinking Prototyping: (Outcome 6)
Networking Event Challenge: (Outcome 2)
Info Literacy Challenge: (Outcome 4)
Peer Feedback Exercises: (Outcome 7)
National Assessments: (Outcome 6)
Content Activities: (Outcome 8 and 9)

Out of Class Activities  – In an active learning environment, it is important to prepare to fully participate and engage in each class session. More than other classes you may have experienced, homework is an essential aspect of your learning.  To encourage growth and risk taking, most of these assignments will be graded pass/fail, but your best effort is important to the success of the class. Examples of assignments include:
Info Literacy Homework:  (Outcome 4)
Community Challenge PowerPoint or Prezi Draft: (Outcome 3)
Innovation Challenge Write Up: (Outcome 6)
Innovation Challenge Source Check: (Outcome 4)
Integrative Thinking Challenge Source Check: (Outcome 4)
Integrative Thinking Poster Draft: (Outcome 3)
Networking Event Symbol Design: (Outcome 3)
Content Activities: (Outcome 8 and 9)

Instructional Strategies

This course uses a challenge-based active learning model to engage students in the topic. In addition to traditional contentment delivery, the course relies on student-directed immersive activities to introduce students to the topic. Peer learning and teamwork are essential elements in the course.

Required Texts and Materials


Special Accommodations (ADA) Statement
In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, students with a documented disability are eligible for support services and accommodations. If a student wishes to request an accommodation, please contact the Director of Academic Support Services, Henry Conover, at (775) 831-1314 x7534, or go to the OASIS offices on the third floor of Prim Library within the first week of the semester.

The SNC Email System
The SNC email system is the official communication vehicle among students, faculty members and administrative staff and is designed to protect the confidentiality of student information as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 Act (FERPA).  Students should check their college email accounts daily during the school year.

Students have a right to forward their SNC e-mail to another e-mail account (for example, @hotmail or @gmail).  However, confidentiality of student information protected by FERPA cannot be guaranteed for SNC e-mail forwarded to an outside vendor. Having email redirected does not absolve a student from the responsibilities associated with official communication sent to his or her SNC email account.


Attendance at all class sessions is mandatory.  Missed classes will cause a 1-point reduction in both participation and attendance for each class missed.  In addition, no more than three (3) unexcused absences may be incurred without an additional grade reduction penalty.  Each unexcused absence past the third will result in the reduction of approximately one-third of a grade point of the grade otherwise earned.  In other words, an “A-“ will be reduced to a “B+,”  “B+” will be reduced to a “B,” An unexcused absence is any absence for which the instructor  has not confirmed an “excused” categorization.  All work is due on the date published on the syllabus or otherwise communi-cated, irrespective of whether an absence on the due date is excused or unexcused. Late assignments will incur late penalty deductions of approximately 5% per day beyond the due date.  Tardy arrival in class or early departure without advance notice will result in a reduction of participation points.   

Grading Policy

Grading will be based upon the assignments outlined above.  Although grades on the assignments described above will be the primary means of grade assessment, improvement throughout the semester will be very important in terms of the final grade.  A grade based on the total points earned out of the thousand points possible will be assigned based on the chart provided below. However, if significant improvement occurs throughout the course this fact will be taken into account.

Total Points Earned

Written assignments: In this course, as in the world outside of academia, the quality and professionalism of the language and presentation of written and presented work will count.  Papers with substantial grammar, spelling, or word-choice errors will suffer.  The level of formality of writing and presentation should be academically appropriate and slang or vernacular expressions are to be avoided.  Students for whom English is a second language or who require accommodation based on documented need should see the instructor.  All students are encouraged to submit draft work for review and comment whenever time allows.  Papers will be graded using the SNC Common Writing Rubric (also posted on Moodle).

Late assignments: Unless special arrangements are made to the contrary, late assignments will incur a 10% late penalty per day.

Individual and group projects and assignments will be graded according to schemes provided for each assignment.  Numerical scores on individual assignments or grade elements will be based on the degree to which the student has satisfied the assignment's requirements and demonstrated mastery of the material covered. 

Sanctions for Cheating and/or Plagiarism - The Honor Code

The faculty of SNC believes students must be held to high standards of integrity in all aspects of college life in order to promote the educational mission of the College and to encourage respect for the rights of others. Each student brings to the SNC community unique skills, talents, values and experiences which, when expressed within the community, contribute to the quality of the educational environment and the growth and development of the individual. Students share with members of the faculty, administration and staff the responsibility for creating and maintaining an environment conducive to learning and personal development, where actions are guided by mutual respect, integrity, responsibility and trust. The faculty and students alike must make diligent efforts to ensure high standards are upheld by their colleagues and peers as well as themselves. Therefore faculty and students accept responsibility for maintaining these standards at Sierra Nevada College and are obligated to comply with its regulations and procedures, which they are expected to read and understand.

Consequences of Violating the Student Honor Code
SNC students and faculty share the responsibility for maintaining an environment of academic honesty.  Thus, all are responsible for knowing and abiding by the SNC Faculty/Student Honor Code published in the current SNC Catalog.  Faculty are responsible for presenting the Honor Code and the consequences of violating it to students at the start of their classes AND for reporting all incidences of academic dishonesty to the Provost.  Students are responsible for knowing what constitutes CHEATING, PLAGIARISM and FABRICATION and for refraining from these and other forms of academic dishonesty.  Violations of the Honor Code become part of a student’s academic record.

1st Offense: Student receives a zero for assignment/exam and counseling with faculty on the honor code, consequences for violating the honor code, and the value of academic honesty in learning.

2nd Offense: Student fails course and receives counseling with faculty on the honor code, consequences for violating the honor code, and the value of academic honesty in learning.

3rd Offense: Student is expelled.

Disclaimer - If any part of this syllabus violates Sierra Nevada College policy or any other governing policy, that policy will take precedence.

Course Outline
Subject to Change – Please Check THE CLASS BLOG on a regular basis

Shared In-Class Assignments
Homework Assignment (Due the Following Class)
Class 1
Starts in TCES 215
RM 139/141
Intro to Class, Intro to Topic
Group Active Learning Activity

Class 2
TCES 215
Content Day -Handmade Journal (45 Minutes)
Intro to Innovative Challenge - Brainstorming I.C. Ideas
TED Talk (Steve Johnson) 17min.         
PBS Makers Talk(Diane Von Furstenburg ) 3 min.
TED Talk (Hamish Jolly) 12min.

5 Innovative Challenge Ideas

Watch Design is... by Irene Au
Class 3
TCES 215
Content Day – Logo/Branding Design
Video:5yr old
Create a personal using your initials. Create a logo for a classmate. Interview classmate. Sketching designs in journal.

Rework  finished logos.
Class 4
TCES 215
Info Literacy Challenge

Critique: Logos
Info Literacy CRAAP Test Challenge
Problem Statement for Innovative Challenge Idea

Annotated Bibliography for Innovative Challenge Idea

No Class – Labor Day

Class 5
TCES 215
Field Research Preparation -  Interview Etiquette, etc.

Introduce PechaKucha

Start collecting images for PechaKucha
Class 6
TCES 215
Field Research In Class and Individual Project Consultations

Complete at least 5 interviews

Notes from the Field Posters
Class 7
TCES 215
Notes from the field w/ Group Twitchy Brainstorming. Intro to MVP, Peer Feedback

Who, What, Where, When, Why Solution & Value Proposition

Revised canvas

Logos due
Class 8
TCES 215
Content Day – Photojournalism/ Documentation

First draft Pecha Kucha
Class 9
Starts in TCES 139/141
Visual Literacy joint lesson followed by workshops of presentation drafts and oral communication prep
Visual Literacy Presentation and Presentation Refinement
Photograph Reflections
Class 10
TCES 215
Pecha Kucha Practice Presentations w/ Collateral

Final Draft Pecha Kucha
Class 11
TCES 215
Pecha Kucha Practice Presentations w/ Collateral

Final Pecha Kucha
Class 12
TCES 215
PRESENTATION DAY:  PechaKucha presentation of Innovation Challenge
PechaKucha Presentation
Class 13
TCES 215
PRESENTATION DAY:  PechaKucha presentation of Innovation Challenge
PechaKucha Presentation
Don’t forget about your travel book review assignment
Class 14
TCES 215
Content Day – Critique Reflections

Whatcha  lookin' at assignment?
Class 15
TCES 215
Content Day -Present your visual engaging/inspiring images.

Class 16
TCES 215
Introduction to Problem (45 min Outside Speaker), followed by Team Creation

Class 17

TCES 215
Team Contracts, preliminary information research

Team Contract Development. Signed contract
Class 18

TCES 215
Using Team Contracts, Information Research
Problem Statement

Annotated Bibliography (must apply CRAAP test to each resource)
Class 19

TCES 215
Prep for Field Research with project consultations
Class 20

TCES 215

Content Day - TBA
Class 21

TCES 215
Notes from the field/twitchy brainstorming

Class 22

TCES 215
Content - TBA
Class 23

TCES 215
Solution  for Peer Feedback and Individual Project Consultations

Powerpoint/Prezi Presentation 1st Draft
Class 24

TCES 215
Content Day TBA

Class 25

TCES 215
Content Day TBA
Class 26

TCES 215
Presentation Draft Day

Final presentations
Class 27
TCES 215
PRESENTATION DAY: Presenting to Outside Consultants
Presentations to External Organizations
Revise canvas based on feedback from community partners

Travel book review

No class – Thanksgiving break

No class –Thanksgiving break

Class 28

TCES 215
Solution Refinement Feedback

Travel book review presentations
Draft canvas poster
Class 29

TCES 215
Practice poster presentation

Tues 12/9 8:00-11:00
TCES 139/141
Poster Presentations
Poster Presentation Day



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