On Teaching Fashion: Fashion Jeopardy and Mid-Term Exams

Above: Fashion Jeopardy with Andre Leon Talley

One of my courses this semester is a basic textiles course for our Fashion and Interior Design majors. For students inspired to study fashion or interior design by Project Runway and ANTM and HGTV and Martha Stewart (and hopefully, Brini Maxwell), this course can be a little dry.   As I cover the subject matter spelled out in the approved course objectives, each semester I work to create new activities and learning modules to add to the way I teach a course. This week, I subjected my students to their first mid-term exam. I began with two challenges: 1) how to give the students a worthwhile review session before the exam, and 2) writing an all-new exam for them to take.

For a variety of reasons, I am using a new (new to me) textbook for the course this term. This means that my previous exams were based on the format and presentation of the material in the text I used the last time I taught this course. Therefore, I am essentially re-writing all of my exams this term. Without going into a discussion of the merits of each of a variety of test formats, trust me, most professors do not want to sit down and create 50 multiple choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank test questions if they can avoid it.

Second, because of the nature of the material covered in this class, I decided to spend one class period focused on review for the exam. Rather than bore us all to death with a slide presentation review, I decided to use the opportunity to play games in the classroom, which I have done previously, with success.

Here is how classroom games as a means of reviewing course material in preparation for an exam translated into a reduced workload for me when it came time to write my all-new midterm exam:

  • A week and a half before the exam, I gave the students the following homework assignment: write two quiz questions on any of the course subject matter to be on the exam, in the format of the questions and answers on the television game show, Jeopardy.  After I received the questions, I edited them and printed them on index cards. In the last class period before exam day, I had the students form teams, which they named themselves (The Spinnerettes and the Chiffon Sistas are two examples), and each team took turns sending a representative to read questions to the class.
  • As the questions were read aloud by the student in the role of the announcer, my role was to watch to see which team had a member with a hand raised first, indicating readiness to answer a question. One point was awarded for each correct answer. The team with the most points at the end of the game won the game. Sometimes, when playing a classroom quiz game, I give out candy as a prize to the winning team. Other times, I give candy to each student in the class, but give more candy to those members of the winning team. Whether to give prizes at all is a matter of personal preference.
  • After the game, I gave the students the full set of quiz questions from which to study for their exam, as, and this was the bonus for me, I used a number of the questions on the exam. As the quiz game was played, I was able to gauge which areas the students were quite familiar with and which areas needed to be strengthened, and naturally, they were able to observe this about themselves, too, further enhancing the learning opportunities.

For the results of the students’ achievements on their exam, you will have to wait for a future post from me. I chose to administer the exam in an unorthodox way, which I will be sure to tell you all about, and I have not finished grading them, so I do not yet have my results for analysis and discussion. In the meantime, take a look at some of the Jeopardy-style “questions” written by my students:

  1. It is said to be the strongest of all plant fibers and has the highest safe ironing temperature.
  2. This manufactured fiber was originally created as an artificial silk.
  3. This is the most used manufactured fiber in the United States.
  4. It is the formation of groups of short or broken fibers on the surface of a fabric that are tangled together in the shape of a tiny ball.
  5. It is the ability to increase in length when under tension and then return to the original length when released.
  6. The spinning method in which a solid material is melted to form a liquid solution that is forced through a spinneret and into cool air, where the liquid fiber streams harden into continuous filaments.

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  • Couture Allure March 29, 2010 02.26 pm

    I also suffered through Textile Science in school, but for some reason I kept my textbook. It still sits on my bookshelf here in my office, and I refer to it often. My son won a ribbon in his high school Science Fair by using the burn test information from my textbook to create his project. It’s kind of like algebra – you can’t understand why you need to know this stuff when you’re learning it, but it becomes a lifelong skill. Looking forward to hearing the test results. I think I did pretty well!

  • Worn Through » On Teaching Fashion: Group Test-Taking
    April 9, 2010 - 5:02 am

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