FIDM Prepares Students for the Real World With Project-Based Learning

How FIDM's Project-Based Learning Preps Students for Real World Careers

The old model of passively learning facts and reciting them is no longer sufficient for today’s highly complex and technological world.

At FIDM, project-based learning is a key component of the college’s curriculum. According to researchers William R. Penuel and Barbara Means, the classroom activity model gives students a deeper understanding of what they’re learning through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems. 

“When we talk about studying in college or becoming an educated person, we tend to think about producing research papers or cramming through textbooks to prepare for final examinations,” says Sheryl Rabinovich, FIDM’s Dean of Education. “While these activities are the norm, applied learning, or project-based learning, goes the extra step and takes students up the ladder of learning.” 

Psychologist and PBL expert Thomas Markham describes project-based learning as integrating “knowing and doing.” He has said: “PBL refocuses education on the student, not the curriculum—a shift mandated by the global world, which rewards intangible assets such as drive, passion, creativity, empathy, and resiliency. These cannot be taught out of a textbook, but must be activated through experience.”

Our project-based curriculum gives FIDM Students opportunities to collaborate with students from other majors as well as with renowned companies and inspiring industry leaders. PBL results in FIDM Students having industry level portfolios they can immediately show prospective employers.  

Some recent examples of PBL at FIDM include a group of FIDM Students who won the Adobe Creative Jam, where they were tasked with creating an interactive app for social good. Via one of our Industry Partner Classroom Projects, Red Bull challenged students to redesign their Red Bull Wings Team Los Angeles apparel collection and an undercover sampling bag.

“When students can demonstrate that they not only understand the concepts, technical expertise, principles, or steps necessary to produce industry level work, that student is much further ahead in their educational experience because they can produce the work and utilize the concepts,” adds Rabinovich. 

Beauty Students in our Promotion & Presentation class developed promotional events at seven different Kiehl's stores in Southern California. The Design Installation class worked to design and execute a set of windows for Gap. Students in The Business of Denim program were challenged to reinvent the iconic Levi’s 501 jeans for modern times. Graphic Design Students presented scripted show ideas to Hollywood entertainment executives.

One of Rabinovich’s favorite projects at FIDM is from the Bachelor’s course, Icons of Culture: The Context of Meaning. “The final project has students going to museums to locate objects of art that incorporate iconic symbols, patterns, and elements of design that have persisted over time,” she says.

“From these objects, students from several different majors re-interpret the motifs into textile designs, inspired from the museum pieces. They receive feedback from the class, refine their design, and then they produce their own product. These can be DVD covers, dishes, stationery, or apparel, and the process that they must articulate and successfully demonstrate illustrates the full cycle of combining scholarly research into saleable design.”

Read more about FIDM’s Industry Partnerships both in and out of the classroom.