From the Archive: I + E + QOT = S

I am going to tease out Monica Murgia’s excellent teaching post on keeping students engaged and learning.


I am not mathematically inclined but feel Monica’s equation holds great merit when combined with the dimension of time, specifically QUALITY of time.  I propose adding quality of time to the equation, i.e, Information + Entertainment +QOT = 100% learning success.

or I + E + QOT = S

A key element to my success in the classroom is to “get my students moving” at a quality level as early as possible.

  1. I ask for a lot from students at the beginning of the semester
  2. I ask the most of students at mid-term.
  3. During finals, ideally their work ethics are high and they know the road rules, my final project does not compete with other classes and seems that the students and the work they produce benefit!

Let me give you an example:


In my Fashion, Drawing and Rendering class we jump in the first day drawing croquis, perspective, understanding anatomy, hands, feet, bits and parts. The first few weeks are rigorous studies, the bar is raised and class is engaged from start to end. We meet twice weekly for 2 hours with usually 3-5 hours of homework scheduled weekly.

I + E + QOT = S

Information: Daily slide lectures and studio briefs

Entertainment: Drawing from the latest fashion images: Sartorialsit,, NYT.

QOT: At the beginning of the semester the time element = drawing, drawing, drawing



My midterm project is THE biggie. Think about it folks: During finals, students are totally overwhelmed, engaging them in a serious project ¼ of the way into the semester benefits everyone – the students are energized and well rested and more able to push themselves.

Last semester, my midterm project involved the students in designing a multiple figure (3-5 figures) format in black and white with companion theme, mood and concept board (the board included such things as color, fabric and materials, component details).  The figure boards included hand drawn figures and hand drawn flats. Students could present via 3D boards or a tumblr site.

I + E + QOT = S

Information: Daily slide lectures examples of current inspiration/trend and illustration styles drawn from recent publications, fashion blogs.

Entertainment: The students LOVE building this project. I engage them in daily exercises to get them thinking deeper about visual communication, composition and other essentials. They enjoy building inspiration and theme especially.

QOT: I spread the research/development and project construction phase over several weeks with independent and group meetings.  The key is offering them time for their concept to unfold AND time to get their figures looking like “real” fashion figures that compliment their chosen theme.


From the first day of class I am building interest and excitement about our midterm, after the midterm I guide my students into the thinking that the midterm was a start not an ending and one part of a complete package, this is when I introduce the final.

Our final involves expanding the midterm forward as a digital presentation in Illustrator. This is done in class with little homework, this is achievable for students who are being pulled in several directions the last few weeks of class, and because the final is built on a strong midterm I find that the final work succeeds as well!

I + E + QOT = S

Information: I offer tutorials on drawing flats in illustrator, examples of technical drawing, explaining the necessity of technical drawing and the fact that most of my class will be creating flats in their first jobs.

Entertainment: Tricky with technical drawing. My motto for the class now: beauty is in the details. Hopefully, at this point their work ethics are golden. They know what they have to do and most are entertained by interpreting their creative illustrations into technical flats-this is the goal, anyway.

QOT: All work for the most part is done during class. They post their final technical drawing/flats up on the tumblr site they created during mid-term.



Here is an example of a student Emma Sidoriack’s site:

Do you have anything to add to the expanded equation for success? We would love to hear from you. Happy teaching!


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