Teaching and Learning Strategies
Since the mid-90s, the Elizabeth Galloway Academy of Fashion Design has been training individuals who want to enter the fashion industry or become fashion-design entrepreneurs. Practical experience plays an important part in our programmes, as it ensures that students gain industry-specific knowledge*. Furthermore, an emphasis on theoretical reflection creates insight and understanding, which allows facilitators to adjust their teaching strategies accordingly.
More recently, the institution has started focusing on developing learners’ self-confidence so that they are able to cope with the demanding, fast-paced fashion industry. In order to support this new way of working, we have brought in additional resources – such as a library with internet access and use of the Worth Global Style Network (WGSN), as well as a full-time librarian who offers research support. Simultaneously, the staff body has grown and existing staff members have been encouraged to further their studies.
Our teaching and learning strategy is underpinned by the idea that teaching and learning should be reciprocal. The facilitators aim to provide learning and teaching that is relevant and heuristic. Learners are taught a practical skill, then they are guided as to the why, how, when and where to apply it. Learners are challenged through a brief, task or question in order to reach a certain outcome. They are then required to complete the challenge through self-direction, exploration and guidance from a facilitator. Tasks are designed to promote creative learning, encourage portable skills and endorse informed and relevant choices. Evaluation of the outcomes through assessment and self-reflection helps in the overall preparation for work in the industry.
Industry experience plays an important role in ensuring that training does not happen in a vacuum. The theoretical, practical component and experiential components play equally important roles in our teaching and learning strategy.
* Ginns et al (as cited in Norton, 2009) reports that practical experience plays an important part in learning and teaching but is not adequate, as it results in achieving only the first (and most basic) level in Blooms Taxonomy of learning – knowledge. Winkler (as cited in Norton, 2009) is in agreement with Ginns et al (as cited in Norton, 2009), as she reports the importance of theoretical reflection in creating insight and understanding, which allows facilitators to make different conceptual links in their teaching and learning strategies and students to integrate the knowledge. It is also deemed important by Oblinger and Rush (1997) as they report that as society and economies change it is important to ensure that higher education is geared to meet these new needs and challenges.