Applying the design process to apparel prototype development: Students’ experiences of a community service-learning project
This article describes a service learning product project. The partnership between a social entrepreneur and an academic department provided the opportunity to expose students to a real-life learning experience. The project enabled students to apply knowledge, gained in the Consumer Science Clothing Management programme, to the product development subject. The aims of the project were to expand and improve the existing apparel product range of a social entrepreneur, and to explore student’s experiences of a real-life product development project. The project and related activities were structured according to a design process applicable to apparel product development. Twenty seven students enrolled in the final year product development subject participated in the project. They reflected on, and described their experiences during the real-life service learning project. The positive impact of service-learning was confirmed in the written reflections of students. Content analysis of reflections revealed positive experiences of the project with regard to design, production, and application of knowledge, group work and social responsibility. Theoretical and practical outcomes were achieved which made a positive contribution to the community and well as to student’s learning experiences. Twenty two of the 67 product ideas were selected by the social entrepreneur to expand the existing product range and consequently facilitate job creation.