Students’ approaches to the ‘research’ component in the fashion design project: Variation in students’ experience of the research process | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1474-273X
  • E-ISSN: 2040-0896


This study investigates the qualitatively different ways in which students approach the ‘research’ component within the design project. The study was undertaken with students in their first or second year of an honours degree course in fashion design at four UK universities. In a previous study, students were interviewed to discover the qualitative differences in approach to study in fashion design (Drew, Bailey and Shreeve, 2001; Bailey, 2002). The data set was interrogated again to specifically investigate the approaches students had to the research element of the project method in the original study. A phenomenographic methodology was used to look at the relationship of differences within the student experiences described in the transcripts. Four qualitatively different ways to approach research were construed which indicated an increasing complexity of strategies used. The study indicates that students approach research in different ways, and that the simplest way is undertaken to reproduce visual elements of the found material in a final product. More complex approaches build a personal conceptual response to the project through research. These differences have implications for teaching, learning and assessment in the design project.


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