Teaching for Creativity through Fashion Design

Article excerpt

In today's high technology, globally interdependent world, we must educate students to achieve to their highest capacity. The goal of this middle school fashion design project was to develop a classroom environment that promoted teaching for creativity. We examined the following questions. What was the students' perception of their (a) participation in the creative process and (b) self-confidence in the ability to design creative fashion products? Data revealed students benefitted from participation in the creative process and enhanced their self-confidence in the ability to create a fashion item. Findings were limited to students from one middle school and one teacher.

The field of family and consumer sciences (FCS) has evolved since its founding with the expansion of specialty areas over the past 50 years. In their review of needlearts in this journal over the past 100 years, Buckland, Leslie, and Jennings-Rentenaar (2009) noted a lack of research in this area possibly because it was aesthetic, not quantifiable. A review of articles during the first decade of the Journal of Home Economics, 1909-1919, revealed that needlearts benefited students' skill levels and thinking (Leslie, 2009). The debate as to the academic nature of needlework and sewing continues today.

Secondary FCS classrooms and curricula have changed dramatically. Broader curricula may now include career exploration with more diverse students. One high school fashion design teacher likens her challenge to that of a "ringmaster of a three-ring circus" (Nelson, 2009, p. 51). In our high technology, globally interdependent world, it is imperative that students achieve to their highest capacity. This theme was explored through fashion design, including needlearts, with the goal of developing a teaching strategy within the middle school curricula to promote a classroom environment that fostered creativity.

Beghetto (2006) proposed that creative ability in a student is not the sole determinant of a person's creative output. The classroom setting can foster creative student outcomes and it includes both teaching creatively and teaching for creativity. Teaching creatively focuses on the creativity of the teacher - the teacher makes learning interesting. The focus of teaching for creativity is to develop a person's creative thinking and ability, thereby shifting the spotlight from the teacher to the learner (Jeffrey & Craft, 2004; Rutland & Barlex, 2008).

We examined the following questions in this classroom project. What were the students' perceptions of (a) participation in the creative process and (b) self-confidence in the ability to design creative fashion products? The objective was to describe students' self- assessment of participation in a fashion design project. One middle school teacher and her students served as participants, thereby limiting the project.


Art, using the notion of romantic creativity, has been described as divinely inspired (Sefton-Green, 2000). Design, on the other hand, emphasizes skills or learning a craft and it brings together market forces and creativity or innovation (Hargrove & Rice, 2007; Sefton-Green, 2000). Rutland and Barlex (2008) noted that students show less creativity as they move through school, with teachers providing more structured activities as students' progress to higher levels. Their case study led to the development of a theoretical framework, the "three-feature model for creativity." Although the student is at the center of the model, the teacher is at the center of a dynamic process and can affect students' creativity outcomes by providing a safe, supportive, and rewarding environment and by encouraging students to be risk takers, tolerant, and pro-active.

Eisner (2004) proposed that educational effectiveness is affected by context. Hargrove and Rice (2007) found that self -planning, self -monitoring, and self -evaluation, along with creativity strategies, led to improved creative thinking abilities. …