Principles of Course Design

Many universities offer a conceptual approach to teaching apparel curriculum, to what otherwise could be quickly delivered as practical skill development. In this ‘conceptual’ teaching, metacognitive skills are at the center of many design courses. Even introductory courses have a lab component where students are asked to synthesize the information they are learning into a final project/concept or portfolio. The coursework is typified in capstone courses where students are challenged to create an apparel artifact (e.g. clothing collection, photographic portfolio, technical design portfolio). At this level, students are learning very few new skills or information from the teachers, but rather the learning is self-guided as the needs of each student are very different to achieve their end goal. My knowledge at this point is supplemental and  is used as a resource to support students. 
In my particular teaching (and learning) experience, active metacognitive teaching, as compared to a passive style, challenges the students to think independently. Students have mentioned that they always enjoy the outcome, regardless of their trials and tribulations during the process. Furthermore, this kind of active learning is directly preparing students for what will be asked of them in the fashion business. Regardless of the products/artifacts being produced, this type of learning is giving students the process that they may apply to any work environment.



In my course design, I address content and process knowledge through meta-goals. These broad learning goals are adopted and synthesized from theITAA Four-Year Baccalaureate Program Goals revised in 2008. My course goals include:  

  • Develop a curiosity of design process and understand how the design process can support quality of life.
  • Speak to design as a systematic process that is rooted in theory and history
  • Use the design process to Identify and interpret needs and wants of consumers
  • Apply user needs to plan, develop, produce, and communicate product lines.
  • Document the entire process of design to show student advancements in course concepts
  • Appreciate the possibilities of group creativity and thrive as team members within diverse environments.
  • Demonstrate critical and creative thinking skills, including the ability to critique oneself and others constructively.
  • Apply quantitative and qualitative methods for problem-solving within the apparel design process.
  • Use appropriate technology to facilitate critical problem solving.
  • Communicate ideas in written, oral, and visual forms using appropriate technology.

AM375 Product Design & Development - Softlines

Required course; ~30 students

My role:

As a teaching assistant to Dr. Juyeon Park at Colorado State University, I was able to contribute to the development of AM375: Product Design and Development. Specifically, I aided in developing the inaugural course syllabus (SP11) and delivered lectures on creating tech packs, garment specifications, and creating technical illustrations using Adobe Illustrator. 

The aim of this lecture was to share industry practices in developing a professional quality tech pack that was used to communicate garment requirements to the industry partner working with this course. It was my role to teach students how to generate technical sketches, line plans, colorways, measurements, and seam specifications to complete the tech pack. 

FSAD1450 Introduction to Fashion Design

Required course; ~30 students

My role:

As the lab instructor, I taught two sections of FSAD1450 LAB under Dr. Anita Racine. As a means to give TA's experience in teaching, Dr. Racine gives her assistants nearly complete autonomy over the lab that supplements her lectures. The lab teaches freshmen-level students the apparel construction skills necessary to generate a two-piece children's wear outfit. Many students who enter the lab had never sewn before, or even sat behind a sewing machine. 

For this course, I used teaching plans to guide our activities in the classroom. My goal was to demonstrate sewing techniques that students  could apply to their own work.  I especially took note if students had difficulties understanding the construction or application of each example. I used this information to adjust my delivery methods, sometimes bringing in physical samples or images where students might find inspiration and innovative new ways to use traditional construction methods.  

As a means to communicate my expectations and increase transparency in grading, students were provided with a rubric in advance for each sample notebook submission. 

My role:

In 2012, I had the opportunity to assist Dr. Huiju Park in developing in-class and homework activities for the initial installment of this required course.  We aimed to arm students with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator knowledge to visualize their design work. To achieve this aim, I developed two lectures on the pen tool. The introductory lecture not only had students engaged in using the tool; it challenged them to look identify the difference between vector and raster art and understand the benefits and limitations of each. It also challenged students to look at vector art as a series of layered shapes and lines. This method simplifies the number of nodes and makes clean, professional-level files. 

The second lecture and assignment asked students to generate a trim library. The library is a collection of design components frequently used in their design work. A library keeps components localized in one file/area. Students were instructed to  make brushes for custom stitches and zippers and illustrated items like buttons, snaps, and zipper pulls. They also had the autonomy to illustrate a set of garment components that were relevant to their design work and aesthetic (e.g., pockets, sashes, bows). 


Informal Education Curriculum Development

Elective course; ~30 students each summer

Developed in conjunction with Dr. Susan Ashdown, Dr. Lucy Dunne, Charlotte Coffman, Fran Kozen, Harini Ramaswamy

My role:

Developed in a collaboration between Cornell and the University of Minnesota, this NSF-funded informal learning curriculum is designed to engage girls (11-14 years old) in STEM. BUT we do it a little differently by embedding STEM principles into clothing design concepts. Our aim is to foster critical thinking skills that can be applied to any field. Although I was not involved in writing the initial grant for this pedagogical research, I have been instrumental in developing activities for each of the four learning modules and applied for supplementary Research Experiences for Undergraduate grants. What I am sharing below is from Module 1: Advanced Materials and was used by the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The experiential activities are delivered through a self-guided PowerPoint and with the help of an adult educator. Thirty teams of ten girls completed these activities as a fun way to learn about STEM and apparel design.

Marvelous Materials - Fabric Structures

Marvelous Materials - Regulating Body Heat

As an exercise in course development, I designed the syllabus, and group evaluation for a future course. The premise of the course is based on my personal research and my teaching philosophy. I believe that researchers can look at the situation and identify the measurable problems that comprise an overall solution. In being able to identify problems and explore, multiple solutions, students who participate in this course will learn a valuable skill that will help students succeed in the product development industry. 

This ‘dream’ course, binds four inter-related themes which address: 1) design models and systems, 2) human-centered design approach, 3) negotiating teams, and 4) collaboration through experience. I thoughtfully chose the sequence of each theme as they build an overall comprehension of the foundational theories of design. The course culminates in an applied, creative, and collaborative project that will have students feeling confident they can integrate the iterative problem/solution process of design in their first job. 

One challenging aspect of this course is convincing students to believe in the power of group work! To alleviate some of their evaluation apprehension, I have devised a weekly report that includes peer evaluations, but also lets the teams quantify how they are feeling - collectively. This communication device is used to initiate dialog about how groups can grow into a collaborative and cooperative entity. 

Through many and varying academic experiences, I have been exposed to the breadth and depth of meaningful teaching that advances the field of apparel design. It has been through this exposure that I am excited to share this knowledge with the next generation of apparel designers in coursework. When appropriate, I will integrate experiences that encourage students to engage in community outreach through real-life design collaborations. These experiences will expose and challenge students to the unique needs of target populations that they may otherwise not engage.

Last Updated: 5/14/2014