Asee peer logo

A Service Learning Project In Digital Media Designed To Develop Professional Skills

Download Paper |


2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Service Learning Courses

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.109.1 - 12.109.19



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Cher Cornett East Tennessee State University

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Service-Learning Project in Digital Media Designed to Develop Professional Skills Abstract

In well-developed instructional programs, professional skills such as business writing, team organization, project management, and oral presentation skills are built into coursework throughout the curriculum. Because of limitations of the classroom environment, these experiences only simulate those encountered in the field, making it difficult for students to appreciate the importance of these skills in their career preparation. In the Digital Media (DIGM) program at East Tennessee State University (ETSU), students often see professional skills aspects of projects in animation, web design, or 3D visualization courses as unnecessary obstacles to learning primary course material. It isn’t until they have an opportunity to work in the field that these skills suddenly become relevant. Only then do they understand the consequences of poorly developed professional skills.

Industry advisors for our program emphatically stress the need to help students develop professional skills. Our graduates have been praised for technical and artistic skill, but even though they work in teams, write proposals, and make oral presentations in many of their classes, when it comes to applying these skills on the job they haven’t fared as well. In a highly competitive job market, it is often demonstration of these professional skills, combined with an overall professional demeanor, that make or break an applicant’s ability to successfully land a good job.

To address this need, a service-learning project designed to give students real world experience was implemented in the fall 2005 Portfolio Development in Digital Media class. Using “Maryland’s 7 Best Practices for Service Learning” as a guide, the project was developed in collaboration with the Tri-City Metro Advertising Federation (TMAF). Students would compete for the opportunity to produce the promotional campaign for the ADDY Awards Competitioni for the Tri-Cities (Johnson City, Bristol and Kingsport, TN). Student teams answered a “Request for Proposal” for the project, which was also sent to advertising professionals. Classroom limitations were removed, and real-world consequences and rewards were in effect.

Students were placed in competition with professionals as peers, with the same expectations for performance and delivery. Curricular objectives were achieved by allowing students to apply digital media skills in a professional setting, on a real-world project, that would become a case study for their portfolios. The project provided incentives for a successful proposal in that the proposal chosen was professionally produced and actually used by TMAF. In each year that the project was assigned, one of the student teams designed the winning campaign and was given community recognition for their contribution to their field.

Students met the same criteria as competing professionals for responsibility, professionalism, proposal preparation (including research, creative solution, and adherence to instructions), effectiveness of the “pitch” (persuasive oral communication of ideas), and delivery of product. By working with professionals, they made contacts that could assist them in their careers.

Cornett, C. (2007, June), A Service Learning Project In Digital Media Designed To Develop Professional Skills Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2942

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015