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Fashion variations: student approaches to learning in fashion design
Linda Drew, University of Brighton, UK Sue Bailey, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Alison Shreeve, London College of Fashion, The London Institute, UK
Abstract This paper investigates the qualitatively different ways that students approach their learning in the context of first- and second-year fashion design courses. The central aim of the study is to explore the variation in fashion design students’ approaches to learning. The focus on variation suggests that these approaches are best explored with a phenomenographic study. Fashion design students in four fashion design departments in UK universities were chosen as the subjects of the study. The phenomenographic method used commenced with semi-structured interviews focusing on student approaches to learning in the context of a fashion design project in the first or second year of study. The sample of 21 was deliberately selected to maximise the variation. The focus of analysis is to define the qualitatively different ways (but not the similar ways) in which fashion design students approach their learning. The context explored in this study focuses on one fashion design project. The second-order nature of the research approach is
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concerned with talking to students about how they experience their learning (that is, to describe the experience of their interviewees, rather than to describe their own experience, which is a first-order approach). This paper also focuses on variation or on experiences that are different, in learning fashion design. The variations in approaches to learning in fashion design are constituted as a series of qualitatively different categories of approaches. These approaches move from strategies that focus on the product, through a focus on the process of design to a focus on concepts. The students’ intentions in deploying these strategies vary from developing a technical competence, through the development of the design process to development of their own conceptions. These categories are described in terms of those structural and referential aspects of the strategies and intentions. This is demonstrated in the outcome space, which describes the internal relations in structural and referential terms, this enabled the construction of the hierarchy of the structural component of the study. Introduction Although the body of research building on Marton and Säljo’s seminal study (1976) into student approaches to learning now ranges across a number of subjects and disciplines, only one such study has been conducted in art and design. A case study on the encouragement of independent and reflective learning on a graphic design course (Gibbs, 1992; Davies, 1994) touched upon student approaches but did not set out specifically to identify the range of different approaches taken, nor to define the features of the differences. This being so, teachers in the discipline have had little empirical research to inform debates on student learning. Nevertheless, the discourse that has developed around student learning has come to embrace the terms ‘deep’ and ‘surface’ without...