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Project based learning and assessment of ordinary level Fashion and Fabrics in Zimbabwe

Patrick Sibanda, Florence Sebele, Mlungisi Moyo

Abstract


Ordinary level assessment for Fashion and Fabrics exposes learners to a practical paper (Paper 3) which is weighted at 20%. This entails that 20% of the final assessment of a learner is coursework while 80% is the examination. Learners do not have full autonomy over the sample garment for coursework as there are specifications provided by the examining board. This research sought to explore how the assessment criterion could be improved to empower learners for further education and entrepreneurial skills. The revisit of the assessment criterion was in response to the contemporary issue of the advancement of STEM subjects under the slogan for, ‘Stemitisation of the curriculum’. This research was informed by the constructivist philosophical view, hence predominantly qualitative. The major question that guided the study was: ‘How could ‘O’ level Paper 3 Fashion and Fabrics assessment be improved to establish a relationship between opportunities for further education and entrepreneurial skills?’ Focus group interviews and unstructured questionnaires were used to collect data from a sample comprised of thirty ‘O’ level students and twenty teachers selected from high schools drawn across one district in the Bulawayo Metropolitan Province. The purposive sampling technique was applied in order to obtain rich information from respondents in their natural setting. Results revealed that the assessment criterion did not expose learners to sufficient problem solving skills. The major conclusion drawn was that there was a misalignment between the assessment criterion and the global need to prepare students for the demand for entrepreneurial skills in the 21st century. Recommendations put forth in this paper appraised the need for a project based assessment as it would enable students think creatively to boost their entrepreneurial skills and to facilitate their smooth transition into further education or productive work. The study also recommended an urgent curriculum review which will be sensitive to a balanced assessment criterion which recognizes both theory and practice in Fashion and Fabrics and which recognizes the ethos of interprenuership.

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