Tensions, transitions and triumphs : examining the transitional experience of fashion students between school and university
Vaughan, Suzi & Armstrong, Wendy (2009) Tensions, transitions and triumphs : examining the transitional experience of fashion students between school and university. In Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Art Educators Conference, 20-23 April, 2009, Otago Polytechnic Art & Design, Dunedin. (Unpublished)
Joining any new community involves transition and adaptation. Just as we learn to adapt to different cultures when we choose to live abroad, so students learn the language and culture of an academic community in order to succeed within that environment. At the same time however, students bring with them individual learning styles and expectations, influenced by their prior experiences of learning and of life more generally. Some have excelled at school; others have come to fashion seeking something in which to excel for the first time. Commencing a degree in fashion design brings students into contact with peers and lecturers who share their passion, providing them with a community of practice which can be both supportive and at the same time intimidating.-----
In Queensland where university level study in fashion is such a new phenomenon, few applicants have any depth of training in design when they apply to study fashion. Unlike disciplines such as Dance or Visual Art, where lecturers can expect a good level of skill upon entry to a degree program, we have to look for the potential evidenced in an applicant’s portfolio, much of which is untutored work that they have generated themselves in preparation for application. This means that many first year fashion students at QUT whilst very passionate about the idea of fashion design are often very naïve about the practice of fashion design, with limited knowledge of the history or cultural context of fashion and few of the technical skills needed to translate their ideas into three dimensional products.-----
For teachers engaging with first year students in the design studios, it is critical to be cognizant of this mix of different experiences, expectations and emotions in order to design curricula and assessment that stretch and engage students without unduly increasing their sense of frustration and anxiety. This paper examines a first year project designed to provide an introduction to design process and to learning within a creative discipline. The lessons learnt provide a valuable and transferable resource for lecturers in a variety of art and design disciplines.
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