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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Visual computer simulation in instruction of apparel production Boni, Mary E.

Abstract

The two main purposes of this study were to explore ways in which object-based visually interactive computer simulation can be an effective learning environment in which to teach apparel production management, and to further the development of software for instruction in apparel production planning. Since students enrolled in apparel design programs typically manufacture only one of each design, there is no link between the design of a garment and the cost of production on a larger scale - a critical link in industry. Setting up assembly lines in the classroom to teach production concepts would be impractical. Visits to production sites are useful, but stop short of allowing students to design and test alternative production strategies. Computer simulation provides a safe, efficient, cost-effective tool for teaching basic production concepts and solving problems related to production costs. Prototypes of a visual computer simulation and a spreadsheet simulation were developed to teach apparel production layout design and costing. The effectiveness of the simulations were compared, using the nonequivalent control group quasi-experimental design approach. The researcher realized that ANCOVA was the appropriate statistical test to analyze the data as it was shown that the initial differences in mathematical ability of the two groups was statistically significant. The study was conducted over one month. At the beginning of the experiment, instruments to identify students' thinking and learning styles and a pretest were administered to all subjects. Subjects in the experimental group were assigned the visual computer simulation exercise while subjects in the control group were assigned the computer spreadsheet exercise. Each group was allowed one-and-one-half hours to complete the assigned exercise, working in pairs. An achievement test pertaining to the mathematical content of the computer exercises and drawing of a production scheme, was administered to both groups as a posttest. Students in the group that received the visual computer simulation treatment achieved a higher adjusted mean score on a test of production costing and scheduling, although not statistically significant, than the students who received the computerized spreadsheet treatment. The analyses indicated that there may be a directional relationship between students identified as visual learners who used the visual computer simulation and achievement on a test of production costing and scheduling as there was a significant increase in adjusted posttest scores. The analyses also indicated that there may be a trend in students identified as active learners who used the visual computer simulation and achievement on a test of production costing and scheduling as there was an increase in adjusted posttest scores. Feedback from the students was overwhelmingly positive. Many students indicated that they were not strong in mathematics, but the visual simulation helped make the process more real to them; the calculations made sense. The enthusiasm displayed by the students and the surprisingly deep nature of the discussion that followed convinced the author that this teaching strategy was worth the effort and has considerable future potential. In conclusion, the visual simulation can be used in the classroom to supplement instruction in apparel production management. Implications for future research include: testing the software with a larger sample and randomizing their distribution into groups; and probing more deeply into the nature of object-based simulation as a teaching/learning strategy. Planned extensions for the simulation include student configurable layouts and the typical production problems of employee absenteeism and machine breakdowns.

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