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1.1 Background of the Study
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Purpose of the Study
1.4 Research Questions
1.5 Significance of the Study
1.6 Scope of the Study
1.7 Limitations of the Study
1.8 Definition of Terms
2.1 Introduction
2.2 The Evolution of Electronic Publishing
2.3 Common Formats in Electronic Publishing
2.4 Aesthetics and Information Technology
2.5 User Perception of Visual Appeal
2.6 Aesthetics: Implication for Newsletters
2.7 Theoretical Framework
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3.1 Introduction
3.2 Research Design
3.3 Population of the Study
3.4 Sample Size and Procedure
3.5 Description of Data Gathering Instrument
3.6 Method of Data Analysis
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Data Presentation and Analysis
4.3 Discussion of Findings
5.1 Summary
5.2 Conclusion
5.3 Recommendation
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1. Gender of Respondents.
2. Department of Respondents
3. Remark on the use of aesthetics in AUNthisWEEK
4. Most Attractive feature of AUNthisWEEK
5. Most attractive design feature of AUNthisWEEK
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This research aims to understand the role of aesthetics in the production of electronic
newsletters. In this study, AUN’s weekly newsletter (AUNthisWEEK) was put under the
microscope in an attempt to examine the effect some of its design features have on readers. Users
are known to patronize that which the find appealing to any of their senses.
The persistent use of familiar design features is likely to bore readers and gradually diminish
their numbers. To prevent this, multimedia designers must constantly work to improve the
functionality and aesthetics of electronic content. The standard of design in modern electronic
platforms is continuously improving. Because there is competition in the market, these platforms
have no choice but to out-design their competitors. However, AUNthisWEEK lacks that
competition but still seems to satisfy its readers.
This study intends to use Abraham Maslow’s self-actualization theory as a framework to help
explain some of the research questions. A survey will be used to gather data that will be analyzed
by simple percentages.
At the end of this study, the aim of answering the research questions will have been met fully.
This study hopes to reveal any blind spots that might be present in how the newsletter uses
aesthetics. It will also recommend ways to improve any irregularities that may arise from this
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1.1 Background of the Problem
In 2003, the former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar established the
American University of Nigeria (AUN) with the help of renowned Nigerians and academics
from Nigeria and abroad. Located at the Northeastern state of Adamawa, AUN is rated among
the best educational institutions in the country according to the National Universities
Commission ranking (2018). The university prides itself as being Africa’s first Development
University with the aim of “pioneering service learning that will produce leaders who will be
equipped with the knowledge to resolve societal concerns”.
Because of questions raised around the quality of education in Nigeria and Africa
(UNESCO, 1995), AUN has taken it upon itself to provide the high-grade education that is in
low supply. The university has a clear objective to “prepare the leaders of tomorrow for the
challenges on ground and those that are lie ahead in the journey to achieve true excellence”.
Achieving excellence is top priority for AUN. This means that it must strive to always be a step
ahead of others in the education sector. The university values elegance and all things concerning
them must carry a seal of uniqueness with it. This elegance greatly affects the multimedia
channels the university uses to relay vital information, (AUN Website, 2018).
The university has striven to fulfill its promise of unlocking the true potential among
members of its community. For this reason, AUN provides high quality internet connection that
will greatly ease the process of accessing information. AUN boast of being a wireless university
that places a lot of emphasis on Information Technology. Computers, internet connectivity, and
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other significant IT facilities are very effective tools for teaching. AUN recognizes this hence,
these tools are readily available. Another important goal of the university is to graduate
individuals that are well-educated and learned in both general knowledge and a specialized
discipline of choice. The university thrives in diversity. It is home to people from different
backgrounds and ethnicity that function seamlessly.
The university focuses on training future leaders of Africa that may serve as true agents
of growth and development. This is the major motivation behind the idea of providing a broadspectrum type education where individuals are equipped with the best tools to manage
challenges. The excellence that AUN showcase to African and the world has attracted students
from different parts of the world. International organizations also took notice of the Good work
being done by AUN and rewarded them with awards. Some of those awards for excellence
include the Harry Wofford Global Citizenship that was conferred on the Founder by the America
Peace Corps. Also in 2011, former AUN President, Dr. Margee Ensign was awarded the African
Leadership Award in Education Excellence. Another notable award AUN received in Atlanta
was that of African Leading University in 2012.
Some of the goals AUN consider top priority include:
 Becoming Africa’s first Development University.
 Building an institution where faculty comprises of highly educated individuals who
possess outstanding skills in aspects of teaching, research, and shaping critical thinkers.
 Creating a community that guides students into becoming problem solvers.
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 Encouraging members of its community to adopt the use of technology as a vital tool of
 Establishing a community that will ensure the realization of the University’s objectives
(AUN, 2014).
1.2 About AUNthisWEEK
For an institution that values transparency and togetherness, it is important that
members of the AUN community receive frequent updates as to the progress the university is
making. The global trend for organizations is to have a department that works for the sole
purpose of communicating the affairs of the organization within and outside the organization.
Owing to the advancement of technology, there are several means of communicating with the
stakeholders of an institution like AUN. Custom made newsletters and electronic bulletins are
effective ways of keeping stakeholders up to date. In AUN’s case, AUNthisWEEK is the
preferred means of communicating the affairs of the university. AUNthisWEEK is an electronic
newsletter published weekly. Originally referred to as News to You; AUNthisWEEK started off
as a hard copy publication in 2005. The central motive behind this publication was to keep
stakeholders informed about the activities of the university. The world has evolved to no longer
need to pass information across through hard copies instead, these e-newsletters are
communicated in the form of multimedia (a blend of text, audio and video).
According to Webster (2018), a newsletter is a written report that is issued periodically,
typically by a business, organization, or institution that present information and news to people
with a specific interest in the organization or subject. People usually value productions that are
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pleasing to the eye’ and are more inclined to continue patronizing that product as far as it
satisfies their aesthetic needs. This case applies to the production of newsletters where a lot of
work has to go into making aesthetic choices that will keep the readership satisfied and wanting
more. Aesthetics in a newsletter can be presented in the way the background is set up, the colors,
audio quality, image quality, and video quality. Nobody will want to continue patronizing a
newsletter that contains blurry images or low quality videos or even an audio recording that can
be barely heard. The readership can easily get bored if nothing in the newsletter appeals to their
sense of elegance and beauty. Therefore, it is necessary to keep the readers satisfied by
constantly coming up with innovative ways to improve the aesthetics of the newsletters.
Aesthetic quality improvement can be seen in how social networks and other online platforms
regularly roll-out updates for their user interface. These updates usually come about as a result of
user feedback. When users become increasingly dissatisfied with the aesthetic choices of the
platform they utilize and may demand for changes if the producers want to continue having the
support of the users. It goes without saying that aesthetics in any production play a vital role in
keeping the users satisfied as well as attracting more users. The better the quality of the aesthetic
appeal used, the more likely it is that the product will be recommended to others. Since the major
aim of a newsletter like AUNthisWEEK is to provide contents to as many members of the
community as possible, it is important to look at the underlying effects aesthetics have to the
Norman (2004) is of the claim that aesthetic design plays an influential role in affecting
user preferences. His claim is supported by well-established knowledge in the field of marketing,
product design, as well as social psychology. He continued by adding that, the aesthetic quality
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of a product influences the attitude of consumers. (Karen Dion, 1972) reported that, not only is
beauty an key quality of a product but its effect seems to transcend the object and influence
other judgments, in what is known as the halo effect.
1.3 Statement of the problem
AUN is an organization that values elegance and beauty therefore, in aspects of newsletter
publication, there has to be some form of distinctiveness about how the newsletter feeds the eyes
of the readers. Every publication is done with the intention of reaching as much people as
possible but will only live up to that expectation if it possesses a strong appeal factor.
Newsletters today can undergo various aesthetic tweaks to make them look appealing to the
readership. Also, people have become increasingly exposed to different types of electronic
newsletters and magazines to be able to pick favorites based on their aesthetic qualities. It is
therefore important to evaluate how effective the aesthetics used in AUNthisWEEK has helped
the newsletter in terms of; gaining acceptance among AUN community members, meeting the
objectives of the university, and playing a significant role on the readers. This research looks to
see if there are areas of aesthetics that can be improved in the production of AUNthisWEEK.
1.4 Research Objective
The objectives of this research are as follows:
a. To find out if the use of aesthetics in AUNthisWEEK agrees with the University’s goals
and objectives.
b. To identify what aesthetic elements used in AUNthisWEEK appeal most to readers.
c. To evaluate the effects of the use of aesthetics in AUNthisWEEK on readers.
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1.5 Research Questions
The research questions that motivated this study are
a. Does the use of aesthetic appeal in AUNthisWEEK meet the goals and objectives of
b. Are there specific features of AUNthisWEEK that readers find aesthetically attractive?
c. What role does aesthetics play on the readers of AUNthisWEEK?
1.6 Significance of Study
This research is essential in order to ascertain the current status of AUN’s newsletter
when it comes to keeping up with recent best practices of newsletter production. These best
practices include the use of new methods and tools to polish the newsletter so it becomes very
pleasing to the readers. Readers are unlikely to continue subscribing to e-newsletters if they are
very drab and boring. To avoid this, it is vital to look into the current tools of aesthetics that are
being used by AUNthisWEEK to see if there will be need for improvements to keep up with
modern standards. Newman, (2014) was of the view that newsletters are important in
transmitting vital information to members of an organisation but there has to be a certain element
that makes it appealing to readers and leaves them asking for more. Furthermore, Anthony,
James and Janet (2013) emphasized on the need to keep evolving along with technology as new
and improved tools are now available. They further stated that lagging behind will inevitably
cause readers to quickly lose interest in the newsletter production. This continues to prove that if
modern tools of improving aesthetics are not used, newsletters will not be patronized to the point
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where they will fulfill their job of informing stakeholders about the happenings of the
Mawson, ( 2011) argues her point on how the human mind instantly connects to all that
glitters. According to Mawson, the more colorful and elegant something is the more it will attract
attention from onlookers. In a situation like that of e-newsletters, it is therefor important that they
be produced with some sort of aesthetic distinctiveness that will make readers glued to their
screens just to enjoy the contents of the newsletter.
For the above reasons , AUNthisWEEK deserves to be looked at with regards to how it
is keeping up with modern tools of improving its aesthetic quality. Does it meet up with recent
best practices when it comes to e-newsletter production? Are there elements that readers will
appreciate more that what their currently getting? Does AUN’s standard of excellence reflect on
the weekly production of this newsletter? If not then what can be done to see that it stands out
and represents the elegance that AUN strives for? Seeking the answers to these questions makes
this research all the more important. Documented evidence exist of a study that is similar to this
one however, that research was related to the readership and effectiveness of AUNthisWEEK
while this focuses on the aesthetic quality of the newsletter and how helps in spiking the interest
of readers. This research will also help provide some insight to other researchers who will
venture along these line of thought.
1.7 Scope and of the study
This study is limited to the following areas:
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a. To the case study which is: AUNthisWEEK which was selected because most of the
population in the study have come across the said newsletter that will serve as a yardstick
to compare other newsletter.
b. To the use of questionnaire as well as interviews to ascertain how users perceive the
aesthetic quality of AUNthisWEEK
c. To a particular time frame, in this case, most copies of AUNthisWEEK from its
inception to date.
1.8 Limitations of the Study
– Access to information about the total population of members of the AUN community that
will enable the decision as to what percentage of the population is ideal for an effective
result of the study.
– unavailability of recent literatures that are related to the study
– The time frame did not allow contact will the ideal population that will ensure an
effective result.
1.9 Definition of Terms
1.7.1 – Aesthetic: Having a sense of beauty, concerned with beauty or the appreciation of
beauty. Its use in this paper is to show how elegant AUNthisWEEK is based on how
images, sound, and videos are used in the e-newsletter.
1.7.2 – E-Newsletter: this is a bulletin that is distributed electronically on a periodic basis
to members of a society or organization.
1.7.3 – Best Practices: these practices can be regarded as the preferred or considered
standard within an organization, business, or industry.
1.7.4 – Evaluation: to judge or calculate the quality, importance, amount, or value of
1.7.5 – Effects: a change which is as a result or consequence of an action or other cause.
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1.7.6 – Organizational standard: these are the values that are predominant and widelyacceptable. These values are regarded as the best in the field.
1.7.7 Publications: the act of making information or stories available to readers in a
printed or electronic form.


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