Design and Merchandising faculty recognized with Outstanding Scholarship Article award

A girl with freckels wearing safety goggles examines fibers beside a Bunsen Burner.
A Fashion FUNdamentals participant enjoys the fiber science lab during the summer youth enrichment program, June 14, 2016.

Faculty evaluating the outcomes of Fashion FUNdamentals, a youth enrichment program for middle school girls offered through Colorado State University’s Department of Design and Merchandising, have been recognized for their research. Drs. Jennifer Paff Ogle, Karen H. Hyllegard, Karen Rambo-Hernandez (West Virginia University), and Juyeon Park, received the 2018 Outstanding Scholarship Article award from the Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences.

In the past few decades, demand for science, technology, engineering and math skills in the workforce have grown, even in nontraditional

An African American student wearing a peach top leans forward to cut into a piece of patterned fabric.
Fashion FUNdamentals aims to make the STEM disciplines more fun and accessible to young girls.

STEM disciplines. The increased incorporation of technology across a diverse array of fields and careers has contributed to this trend.

A lack of gender and racial diversity in the STEM fields indicates that girls may lack the self-efficacy or confidence to choose to pursue these subjects in their careers. Self-efficacy is a measure of a person’s beliefs about their capabilities.

Colorado State University’s Fashion FUNdamentals summer youth enrichment program for middle school girls aims to address this concern by enhancing girls’ self-efficacy, knowledge, and interest in math and science. This program, which was first implemented in 2015, was established by Hyllegard, who is now the head of CSU’s Department of Design and Merchandising, and Ogle, a professor in the department.

STEM enrichment for middle school girls

Hyllegard came up with the idea for Fashion FUNdamentals after hearing a spot on National Public Radio about a professor at the University of Colorado who presented science learning in a context that was of interest to female students and found that they demonstrated greater interest and aptitude in the subject.

Girls wearing bright colors while seated cross-legged on a wooden floor cut fabrics and laugh as a group.
Fashion FUNdamentals focuses on increasing self confidence and self efficacy while girl’s are at a critical age.

“This story resonated with me and I began to think about how fashion, which is often an interest among adolescent girls, could be used as a catalyst to engage middle school girls in STEM learning,” said Hyllegard.

Hyllegard, along with Ogle, decided to create Fashion FUNdamentals, and have since been monitoring the program’s positive impact on young girls’ confidence and interest in the STEM disciplines.

To build a strong program that incorporated STEM learning in a variety of Apparel and Merchandising areas, they invited other faculty within the Department of Design and Merchandising to get involved.

“Karen and Jen asked me whether I would be interested in leading the apparel engineering module to inspire girls to realize that math and science concepts could be taught in the context of anthropometrics, which isthe study of human body measurements using 3D body scanning technology,” said professor Juyeon Park, who has helped to teach in the annual program since its inauguration, and helped to write the final report.

Another goal of the program was to bring this opportunity to potentially underserved girls.  Fashion FUNdamentals is offered at no-cost to girls who participate in their school’s free and reduced lunch programs.

After four years of offering the camp, Ogle, Hyllegard, Park and their co-author Karen Rambo-Hernandez, an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at West Virginia University, published their findings.


Seeing results

“With this research, we were interested in understanding whether participation in Fashion FUNdamentals enhanced girls’ self-efficacy, knowledge, and interest in math and science,”said Ogle. “To answer this question in a holistic manner, we collected both quantitative and qualitative data from girls who participated in the program.”

An girl gets help from a staff member to learn how to accurately measure her body proportions.
The faculty plan to follow these girl’s through high school to see the influence Fashion FUNdamentals has on their interest and affinity towards the STEM disciplines.

Girls were assessed at the beginning and end of the camp, which provided the quantitative results for the study. “Items included in the assessment measured girls’ self-efficacy in math and science, knowledge in math and science, and interest in STEM,” said Ogle.

Qualitative data were collected through focus groups, where discussions explored girls’ perceptions about the usefulness of math and science in everyday life, what they learned about math and science through Fashion FUNdamentals, and how their participation in Fashion FUNdamentals shaped their feelings about themselves and others.

Results revealed that at the conclusion of girls’ participation in Fashion FUNdamentals, their self-efficacy in math and science positively correlated to their interest in STEM.

Hyllegard, Ogle, and Park are planning to track the impacts of participation in the program through high school, and are excited to continue inspiring girls through the annual Fashion FUNdamentals program.

The Department of Design and Merchandising is a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.