Descripción: Action Research in Dressmaking...
Introduction Sewing is a tradition within home economics education. A century ago, sewing
became part of home economics program developing sewing skills, whether they were for fancy work or utilitarian purposes, was viewed as important to assuming domestic roles. By the 1960s, learning clothing construction skills was an important part of preparing young women for occupations related to clothing as well as for homemaking roles. In the 21st century, an emphasis on sewing skills has continued within exploratory or introductory courses at middle and high schools, and in advanced or career development courses at the high school level. Families and society have changed. However, this change calls into question the need to learn sewing skills. For example, although women once made much of the family‟s clothing, now ready-made apparel is available and accessible in neighbourhood stores and from catalogues and internet-based retailers. Most individuals and families can obtain clothing and textiles to meet their needs without knowing how to sew. In addition, financial and human resources are limited both within families and society. Individual students, families, or schools may or may not be able to purchase the sewing supplies, kits, or equipment needed for sewing to be cost-effective. Public schools, as well as colleges and universities, are experiencing a reduction of financial resources. Human resources are limited as well. In many areas of the Philippines, home economics teachers are in short supply. Due to limited resources, families, public schools, including colleges and universities, are forced to make difficult decisions regarding educational priorities.
Although families and society have changed, and despite the desire of the profession to eliminate the stereotypical image of “cooking and sewing,” sewing, from a technical perspective, continues to be a predominant part of home economics classrooms. It is essential, therefore, to reflect upon how learning experiences such as sewing support educational goals and the enduring understanding of concepts important to individual, family, and community life II.
Background of the Study The type and amount of clothing and textiles instruction being offered in
secondary classrooms is an important issue in the re-evaluation of home economics curriculum. This is not a new concern. However, in recent years, persons both within and outside the educational community have questioned the value of clothing construction education. The study of clothing and textiles has traditionally been an important part of the home economics curriculum. The majority of the classroom time devoted to clothing has generally been spent on the other areas of the Technology and Home Economics program. As a TLE teacher of many years, it has always been the goal of the researcher to impart practical knowledge to her students that can be actually used in their everyday lives. However, teaching the skills to students who are reluctant to learn is an everyday challenge that the proponent has to overcome. The somewhat “instant” mentality and the ever changing needs and attitudes of the students contribute to the difficulty of teaching practical skills.
In light of this and the need to put the K to 12 program one step higher, the researcher wants to explore the impact of providing enhancement activities to the dressmaking students of Batangas National High School in order to improve their attitudes towards skills-learning by evaluating their academic performance. The academic performance is evaluated by determining if there is a significant difference in their 3rd and 4th Grading scores. III.
Related Readings or Pieces of Literature and Actual Studies There are opinions in the literature both for and against teaching sewing skills in
consumer and homemaking classes. Some authors report that public school sewing has negative effects on students (Koontz and Dickerson, 2005), while other are strongly in favour of the possible creative benefits to be derived from sewing instruction (Loker, 2007). Koontz and Dickerson (2005) reported that experience in home economics sewing classes had a tendency to discourage students from future home sewing. Many young people considered sewing as a duty to be performed at some time in the distant future. According to them, those students who learned to sew in school were less likely to continue sewing than those who learned from their mother or another relative. Although the majority opinion favors decreased emphasis on sewing, there are also voices in favour of teaching sewing in public schools. Locker (2007) stated that sewing can be used to develop creativity, personal and marketable skills, recognition of quality and self-esteem. The American Home Sewing Association is a strong advocate
for secondary home economics courses that teach sewing skills. Their Washington lobbyist, Del Smith in 2011 made the following statement: “…….. as with other aspects of life, parents are depending more and more on school system to teach their children what used to be taught at home.”.......
Before the turn of the century, much of the clothing worn by the family was made within the home. Members of the family, or extended family, produced and cared for the clothing. This situation no longer exists. Today, most clothing is purchased ready-towear and is frequently laundered or dry cleaned outside the home or by someone hired to perform this service. Role changes within the society have also resulted in changes in the home economics classroom. Today‟s high school home economics classrooms contain a mixture of both young men and women. Both sexes are generally quite interested in clothing and appearance during the teen years. Emphasis should be placed on a curriculum that is up to date in terms of the interests and needs of the students. Other important considerations are an assessment of current and future lifestyles, up-to-date equipment and facilities and an ability to relate knowledge and skills learned in clothing to other aspects of daily living and learning (MacCleave-Frazier and Murray, 2003). Family changes and the changes in the make-up of classes that include a wider mix of students in terms of gender, ability, socioeconomic background, and religion require home economics teachers to re-evaluate course offerings. In Michigan, a new curriculum has been adopted for high school home economics class (Atkins, 2005). It contains topics related to clothing and textiles that are
integrated into six units: essential health and living, personal living, family living, parenthood/child development, consumer education and life management. Content areas such as nutrition and foods, clothing and textiles, and housing and home furnishing skills appear to have been eliminated. However, they have been addressed as basic necessities as they related to particular lifestyles or life stages within the six areas listed above. All skills had to meet this criterion: Is it a skill that at least 60 percent of the students will need or perform frequently in their lifetime? The belief of the educational leadership in Michigan was that tasks such as clothing construction did not pass this test (Atkins, 2005). In a study at the University of Minnessota, six home economics teachers were interviewed concerning skills that students need to develop in order to prepare to live in a rapidly changing world. In the area of clothing and textiles, there was agreement that the following skills should be included: how to care for and repair clothing, how to evaluate clothing needs and how to budget and shop for clothing. The sample did not agree on clothing construction. This would seem to indicate that some of them belived clothing construction should be taught and other believed it should be omitted. The teachers said that the most important things they teach are attitudes towards oneself and others, decision-making skills, and management of personal resources and environment (Heinowski, 2006). This means that clothing construction is not a priority in home economics class. A 2003 study at Pennsylvania State University dealth with reconceptualizing clothing and textiles curricula. The participants believed that teaching construction skills to the exclusion of other important skills resulted in an inability to meet the changing
needs and interests of today‟s students. Since there has been a marked decline in home sewing over the past two decades, the participants questoned if construction skills were actually needed or used by today‟s families. Only one of the 20 recommendations that resulted from the study contained mention of teaching construction skills. The study acknowledge the value of some manipulative skills in producing a tangible product and providing a satisfying experience for students who do not achieve in other areas (MacCleave-Frazier and Murray, 2003). Historically, Clothing and Textile professionals have battled an enduring prejudice against their discipline from both within and outside the academe. One can only speculate as to why needlework has acquired such a negative stigma. Perhaps the stigma arose because girls were taught to use a needle and thread as evidence of their marriage-ability. In 1837, E. W. R. Farrar wrote, “A woman who does not know how to sew is as deficient in her education as a man who cannot write” (as cited in Werhan, 2004). This association between needlework and women‟s cultural roles within the home could have lead self-proclaimed progressive thinkers to dismiss needlework in an attempt to distance themselves from traditional roles in favor of more equality for women. The industrial revolution heralded a new role for sewing. Jean Parsons (2000) chronicled the rise of sewing instruction as a means of preparing young women for work in garment factories. Dressmaking was not a new trade for women, therefore, sewing carried the dual association with the genteel arts of the upper class women and a means of livelihood for those of a lower socio-economic standing. Neither pursuit, however, garnered respect for its high intellect or scientific nature. Parsons wrote that,
“the fact that sewing represented both a part of the traditional feminine role in the home and one of the few acceptable ways to earn a living led to ambiguity on the part of both educators and students almost from the beginning”. This ambiguity arose in part because of sewing‟s association with women‟s traditional roles in the home, but also because of the association between sewing and lower intelligence. Jane Bernard Powers (as cited by Werhan, 2004) researched the vocational movement in education during the early twentieth century. Sewing often constituted a portion of the vocational curriculum. Powers wrote that supporters of trade schools agreed that “industrial and trade training were primarily directed toward working class children, especially those described as „motor minded‟ or not bookish”. Powers also documented two technical high schools that taught plain sewing, dressmaking and millinery “for the benefit of young women who had to become „self-supporting at an arly age‟, yet school administrators indicated that imparting technical skills for homemaking was the primary emphasis” Beyond economics, sewing has the potential to contribute to one‟s quality of life. Recently, the New York Times (LaFerla, 2004) included a story about professionals such as lawyers and stockbrokers who take sewing classes as a means of relieving stress. The article described sewing as an alternate form of psychotherapy which helps build a sense of community as students work and share their personal stories. Singer president, Gary Jones, predicts further growth in the home sewing industry noting, “cocooning, nesting, is a social trend that is bringing women back to sewing. We have seen that trend, not only for our business, but for others that deal with the family, the home” (Morris, 2003).
As society changes and the need for sewing skills changes from a necessary skill for homemakers to what may be considered a craft, some question its place in the FCS curriculum (Pauley, 2006). The FCS national standards support this thinking. There are 16 content standards developed for secondary FCS programs. Nine of these content standards are focused on specific careers which include 11.0, Housing, Interiors, and Furnishings and 16.0, Textiles and Apparel. The remaining seven apply to comprehensive family life courses with a general career focus. Of these comprehensive standards, only one, Consumer and Family Resources, includes a competency that could be used to justify sewing in the curriculum, “2.1.4, Implement decisions about purchasing, creating, and maintaining clothing” (National Association of State Administrators for Family and Consumer Sciences, 2008). Others argue that clothing construction skills are necessary only for creativity in fiber arts or for higher-level jobs in the fashion industry (Loker, 2007; Brandes, 2007). Lee (2002) surveyed 300 randomly selected North Carolina secondary FCS teachers with 140 responding. Teachers “…indicated that clothing construction skills were among the most important skills to be gained in the study of clothing and textiles.” Furthermore teachers “pointed out that the secondary Clothing Design course was one of the most frequently offered FCS courses in the state, and that a major part of the course involved clothing construction skills”. The results of the survey prompted a committee of FCS professionals, current teachers, and students in the state of North Carolina to recommend that clothing construction continue to be required to meet beginning FCS teacher competencies in the state.
Smagorinsky (2006) explored the concept of intelligence and how it is measured in our schools. As part of his research, Smagorinsky observed a sewing lab in a high school FCS program. He used Howard Gardner‟s premise that human intelligence occurs in a variety of ways that are not subject to conventional testing. Smagorinsky commented that “in the eyes of the school the home economic classes are marginal, not central to the „core‟ of academic knowledge, physically located on the periphery of the school building, and generally regarded as appropriate primarily for non-college bound students”. Yet he observed the students usually engaged in skills such as decisionmaking, communication in problem solving, a willingness to try a variety of methods until problems were solved, and spatial intelligence. He also argued that U.S. schools value abstraction over practicality such as that found in a sewing lab. Smagorinsky concluded that “once the assessment deck gets stacked, it is very difficult to unstack it. With historical values institutionalized in standardized assessment practices, it‟s hard to persuade educators and their constituencies that alternative ways of learning are equally valuable”. Sewing does not always lend itself to traditional testing, and perhaps this characteristic has contributed to the misunderstanding and prejudice against the discipline. Peterat (1999) reviewed the history of clothing and textiles studies, then visited successful secondary C&T programs across several Canadian provinces. She documented the elements of each program that contributed to its success. Peterat also included the size and economic impact of the textile and apparel industry in Canada. After her own review of literature, Peterat wrote that there was little research into student perspectives on C&T and how that would impact curriculum. She continued,
“Particularly limited are descriptive studies of the nature of programs, and investigations into teachers‟ beliefs and practices that sustain and gain wide support for programs”. In her conclusion, Peterat wrote, “The elective status of textiles and clothing in the school curriculum places them in the margins of education, a space where some teachers feel they constantly have to defend their programs and explain them to parents, administrators, and students”. One might add to Peterat‟s observations by saying that C&T professionals also find that they must justify their discipline to fellow FCS professionals in child, family or dietetics. Questions that regularly arise in curriculum development are: Who decides what is taught? When are teachers being prepared for teaching the subject, what are taught at the post-secondary level. These questions have direct impact on the curriculum they implement at the secondary level. Ralph Tyler as cited by Werhan (2004) proposed in his seminal work, Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction, that prior to curriculum development, one must look at education from the perspectives of the three major stakeholders to get a well-informed picture of what objectives should be addressed. Those perspectives include that of the student, a view of “contemporary life,” and recommendations from experts in the field of study under consideration. Thompson, Kushner Benson, Pachnowski, & Salzman (2001) refer descriptively to these viewpoints as “lenses;” the means that brings a curriculum into focus or clarity. Looking through the lens of the student, which Tyler names “Studies of the Learners Themselves as a Source of Educational Objectives,” those developing curriculum must consider the needs and wants of the student. Tyler identifies student needs as the difference or “gap” between what educators have determined to be
“desirable standards” or “acceptable norms” and the current state of the student learner. Tyler points out those educational objectives can be determined only after studies about the learner are completed by the institution. He notes that “the school‟s efforts should be focused particularly upon serious gaps in the present development of students”. The other half of the student lens hypothesis is the consideration of student wants. Student wants are more accurately a listing of students‟ interests as discovered through various studies of the learner. Tyler writes: “children‟s interests must be identified so that they can serve as the focus of educational attention”. He realized that educators are working still today to more effectively incorporate, that “education is an active process. It involves the active efforts of the learner himself. In general, the learner learns only those things which he does.” Essentially, Tyler is asking for student buy-in or ownership for learning. He understood the criticism by some against this stance, but insisted that “even these educators recognize the value of beginning with present student interest as a point of departure”. To ascertain student interests, Tyler suggested using any number of methods that may include the following: observations by teachers, student interview, parent interview, general and specific interest questionnaires, proficiency tests of student skill sets, reviews of community data, and even police records. Tyler also suggests that students themselves be enlisted to conduct neighbourhood surveys, be polled as to which courses they would like to take, or “vote” by their enrolment in elective courses. He advised that the final process of analysing resulting data for their implications and relation to accepted standards of the field must be carefully considered as different interpretations are possible.
Some twenty-eight years later in 1977 Tyler reaffirmed the importance of including in curriculum development analyses of both student wants and the following, contemporary life outside of school, in The Tyler Rational Reconsidered (Willis et al., 2003). The lens of society, that Tyler names “Studies of Contemporary Life Outside the School” is an important component for several reasons. He offered two justifications that have stood the test of time. He wrote: …..”because contemporary life is so complex and because life is continually changing, it is necessary to focus educational efforts upon the critical aspects of this complex life and upon those aspects that are of importance today so that we do not waste the time of students in learning things that were important fifty years ago but no longer have significance at the same time we are neglecting areas of life that are now important and for which the schools provide no preparation”…..
A second argument grows out of the findings relating to transfer of training. Studies indicated that the student was much more likely to apply his learning when he recognized the similarity between the situation encountered in life and the situations in which the training took place. There is generally wide acknowledgement today of what Tyler was proposing in 1949; that students learn most when life and classroom situations are similar and when there is practice outside the classroom for application of things learned in it. Because of the complexity and extent of daily life, Tyler wisely suggested breaking down the “life” concept into manageable pieces and collecting information about those pieces separately. He offered suggestions and reminded educators that, as with surveying students for their wants, there is no one method by which to complete the task. He noted the purpose for educators is to gather:
…..”data about the habits and skills of people in particular areas, studying the habits to see what changes in them are necessary to develop better habits and using the list of skills obtained to suggest types of skills which a school might well develop in its students”….. IV.
The Problem One method of data gathering, applicable to this action research, can be an
analysis of the academic performance of the students when Dressmaking was introduced in the 3rd grading period. The proponent of the study found disinterest of the students in the subject matter as compared to the other components of TLE like in ICT. Based on the observation of the researcher, the students found the subject matter boring and not worth learning. As evidenced by the literature posited above, students see dressmaking/sewing such a mundane task not worth learning. Why study dressmaking when you can buy a whole wardrobe in the mall? Or better yet, anybody can just order online and have it delivered at their doorsteps? In view of the above observations, the proponents posited the following questions which this action research tried to answer. 1. What is the academic performance of the students in dressmaking before the enhancement activities were introduced in the dressmaking class? 2. What is the academic performance of the students after the enhancement activities? 3. Is there a significant difference between the academic performance of the students in the 3rd and 4th grading period?
Solutions To engage students in the dressmaking class and to address the problems of
non-interest that probably affects the academic performance in dressmaking, the proponent of the study adopted the following strategies: 1. Community Engagement The proponent of the study invited several dressmakers in the community to help the students appreciate the contribution of the dressmaking industry in the society. Furthermore, students were given the glimpse to what it is like to be in the clothing industry and that it is a worthwhile profession. The professional dressmakers were invited at the beginning of the fourth grading to talk in front of the students and shared their experiences regarding their profession. The dressmakers talked about how and why they got involved in the dressmaking industry and the benefits it brought to their families. Furthermore, the dressmakers showed the students the basic knowledge in dressmaking and encouraged them that dressmaking has the potential to improve their creativity and improve their family income. 2. Peer Mentoring Peer mentoring was used by the proponent in order to further encourage the students to do well in dressmaking. Students who showed interest and did well in the introductory exercises were paired with students who are having difficulty in the subject. Peer mentoring emphasized that if other students can do it, the class as a whole can do it better. Students who were doing well in the dressmaking class taught their other classmates their skills and
3. Power Partnership Power partnership involves partnering a male and female student to create a design that can present the two gender‟s perspective in dressmaking. This way, the researcher was able to eliminate gender bias and stressed that dressmaking is not only for the girls but for the boys as well. 4. Fashion Design Competition Fashion design competition is for the power partnership activity to display their design and encourage the competitive spirit. The entries were judged according to the different elements of dressmaking with originality receiving the highest point. The judges were the dressmakers in the community who participated in the community engagement activity. 5. Mock Fashion Show The mock fashion show is the culmination of the last grading period‟s activities. The students get to walk on the improvised catwalk and displayed their creations. This way the students‟ interests and creativity were tapped to the highest level and therefore achieve the learning competencies of the K to 12 Curriculum. VI.
Results or Findings after applying several solutions.
1. Academic performance of the students before the interventions Table 1 presents the academic performance of the students as reflected in their third grading period grades.
Table 1 Pre-Intervention Grading Results n=57 GRADE RANGE FREQUENCY PERCENTAGE (%) INTERPRETATION 80-85 12 21 Approaching Proficient 86-90 42 73.7 Proficient 91-95 3 5.3 Advanced 96-100 0 0 Outstanding TOTAL 57 100%
It can be gleaned from the table that 73.7 percent or 42 out of 57 of the students are in the proficient level. This is followed by 12 students or 21 percent of the students who are in the approaching proficient level. In addition, 3 students or 5.3 percent of the total population are in the advanced level receiving grades within the grade range of 9195. However, no students are in the outstanding level. After a thorough analysis the table reveals that while the academic performance of the students can be considered okay, this is not the learning proficiency aim of the K to 12 program. It is also important to consider that the students have dressmaking or sewing skills during their elementary years, therefore, they should have all been in advanced level already. 2. Academic Performance of the Students in the Fourth Grading after the Interventions were implemented Table 2 presents the academic performance of the students in the 4th grading period or after the interventions were used.
Table 2 Grade Distribution after the Intervention n=57 SCORE RANGE FREQUENCY PERCENTAGE (%) INTERPRETATION 80-85 1 1.8 Approaching Proficient 86-90 7 12.2 Proficient 91-95 49 86 Advanced 96-100 0 0 Outstanding TOTAL 57 100%
It can be gleaned from the table that 49 students or 86 percent of the total population sample are in the advanced level. This is followed by the respondents in the proficient level at 12.2 percent or 7 students. Only 1 student is in the approaching proficient level at 1.8 percent. The table presents an increase in the academic performance of the students after interventions were made by the proponent. This means that the researcher was able to awaken the interest of not only the female students in dressmaking but the whole class as well. This translates to a very well accepted K to 12 TLE program by the students, thus there is a very high probability of motivated students displaying creativity and skills. The findings also reveal that students start to become engaged and interested in learning. This results prove what Illeris (2003) indicated that learning was desire-based. Kyle et al. (2007) also observed that a motivational state, when aroused, would often motivate behavior such as participation. In this case, the intervention activities used by the researcher were able to tap on the desire of the students to learn dressmaking and accept sewing as an important aspect of life. In a similar fashion, Gordon (2004) explored home sewing not just as “gendered labor” but “also as an escape from drudgery and a tool for self-definition”. She noted
that the garments men and women created were admired outside of the household, thus they were a cause for pride and satisfaction as well as a reinforcement of the value of thrift. Nonetheless, clothing manufacture was not solely within the domain of the women of a household, especially as people increasingly became consumers of massproduced fashion. In addition, the intervention strategies were able to use arouse the affective domain of the students. Graham (2003) explained that educating students in human service areas requires teaching and learning in the affective domain. The different dimensions of the affective domain Graham included were motivational, aesthetic, emotional, spiritual, and moral development. Consequently, "the more a value or attitude is internalized, the more it affects behaviour". Burgi-Golub (2007) explored emotion as a dimension of ethical and moral motivation. Home economics education also showed benefits of learning in the affective domain, as motivation to be a good steward for the environment was based upon the same moral behaviour to act responsibly and care for others (Littledyke, 2008; Shephard, 2008). As one moves into higher levels of the affective domain, the valuing category (level III of the affective domain) relates to appreciation of aesthetic experiences such as good art, music, or literature. The appreciation, valuing, and subsequent enjoyment of classroom involvement also may lead to aesthetic experiences. The aesthetic experience results in concentrated and heightened consciousness. There is an emotional aspect too, involving sensations and feelings as well as condensed symbolism and expression (Fiore, Kimle, & Moreno, 2006).
Fiore, Kimle, and Moreno (2006) proposed that a precise definition of aesthetics was difficult because the word can refer to “a state of being” and/or “a quality of an object”. Fiore et al. (2006) explored aesthetic experiences in depth. They reviewed scholarly literature in several areas, sorting the focus of the literature into one of the following five categories: creator, creative process, object, appreciator, and appreciation process. A student becomes a creator and engages in a creative process while working on projects for an apparel construction/sewing laboratory class. A student may appreciate or participate in an appreciation process while working with others. The fabric itself may be as much an object of an aesthetic experience as it is part of the creation or appreciative processes. The garments or items constructed may be aesthetic objects; the positive hedonic value of the properties of the object can contribute to an aesthetic experience of the students. Rehm (2008) argued that the aesthetic dimension of a person‟s life is “one of the most potent, yet one of the most overlooked, factors in creative and critical thinking of ordinary individuals and families and that an aesthetic perspective could empower individuals (Rehm, 2003). Rehm (2008) presented a dynamic interrelationship of aesthetic perspectives—evoking an array of emotions as one notices particular details as diverse while also able to find a pleasing cohesive whole from the diversity. The need for diversity as an aesthetic quality was highlighted by Rehm (2000), who indicated that it “emphasizes the splendid mosaic of people, emotions, values, material things, sensory riches and ideas in both the physical and the social environment”. Similarly, Kupfer (2003) described the aesthetic experience as a whole formed out of distinctive parts. We draw the whole into a community. When contemplating aesthetic
classroom experiences, Kupfer suggested, “Discussion grows out of the participation of the students”. The teacher contributes a “love that initiates and sustains a quest”. This perspective calls into question a positivist point of view toward education, with the teacher as expert. In fact, Alexander (2003) suggested that to conceive of pedagogy “in aesthetic terms challenges the prevailing positivist epistemology on a deeper level because it questions the accepted distinctions between thinking and feeling”. The result of the research strongly suggests that dressmaking is not just a source of income for the family but an outlet for the creativity of the students as well.
3. Difference between the academic performance of the Students before and after the Intervention activities in Dressmaking
Table 3 presents the significant difference between the academic performance of the Students before and after the Intervention activities in dressmaking or sewing. Table 3 Summary Table for Hypothesis Testing
Paired Differences Mean
Interval of the
THIRD_GRADING_PERIOD Pa ir FOURTH_GRADING_PERIO 1 D
Based on the computed two-tail value at 0.05 level of confidence and p-value of 0.000 which is less than 0.05, there is significant difference between the academic performance of the students in the before and after the proponent of the study used the intervention strategies. Therefore, the null hypothesis was rejected. VII.
Recommendations and Suggestions
Hands-on learning experiences should be emphasized as students apply the skills or techniques to make sewing samples or textile projects. Activities also may support the achievement of academic standards or personal outcomes (e.g., increasing one‟s self esteem or creativity). Learning sewing construction skills is viewed as important to job preparation in the textiles and apparel industry However, curricula based on sewing skills only, without any focus on the family or related concepts, is unlikely to prepare adolescents for their current and future roles within the family and society. Finally, teachers are considered sewing experts who transmit knowledge to students and help resolve sewing construction problems as well as technical difficulties with the sewing machines. Alternative instructional approaches may better facilitate students‟ understanding of concepts rather than skills alone.