Purpose of the Review
This review was conducted in response to the directive issued by the PRC in May, 2001 to assess the quality of student and key instructor satisfaction in an attempt to provide the committee with a snapshot of student satisfaction with the change in direction and leadership of the Apparel Design/Manufacturing degree program. This has been done as a periodic review in addition to the ongoing seven-year review cycle of all UW-Stout major programs.
- B.S. Apparel Design/Manufacturing
- Program Director
- Dr. Rita Christoffersen
- PRC Consultants
- Howard Nelson
- Date of Review
- April 12, 2002
The program in Apparel Design/Manufacturing prepares students for careers in the sewn products industry. It is the only program of its kind in the University of Wisconsin System. The program includes a Professional Core (23 credits); a Technical Core (29 credits, includes a 1 credit required field experience); concentrations in Apparel Design and/or Apparel Manufacturing (13 credits each), and a minor, specialization or emphasis area (15 credits). The program utilizes seven laboratories, including textiles, textiles evaluation, apparel design, apparel CAD, historic costume, and apparel production. The program offers international study in London (11-16 credits) and study tours to points of fashion interest within the U.S. Student work is displayed in two fashion shows each year. The program was re-certified by the American Apparel & Footwear Association’s Professional Leadership Council in 1995.
In 2001, the committee was unable to recommend continuation of the AD/M program based on the data gathered for that review. The committee instead recommended that the dean of the College of Technology, Engineering and Management complete a status report in April 2001 responding to the question: Should the AD/M program be continued?
The dean responded affirmatively to the question stated above, citing a strong program enrollment, strong industry support and strong interest in the program on the part of the student body enrolled in the major. This student interest was expressed by students in the major in view of their ongoing efforts to be heard about their apparent lack of satisfaction with the direction of the degree and its instructional content. In the dean’s plan to re-vitalize the AD/M program, a new program director was named and responses to the student’s perceived complaints about the direction of the major were addressed with an investigation of how the Program Advisory Committee was used to define the need for the program and the structure of the scope and sequence of the courses.
Especially noted in the previous review was the imperative for the new program The PRC requested that the AD/M program director should address the following items cited as problems in the data that was collected for this review:
- Improvement of faculty relations and professionalism of the AD/M program
- The improvement of student-faculty relations
- The promotion of student confidence in the program
- The adoption of a curriculum that has the support of the student body and the Program Advisory Committee
- The improvement of student advisement to the satisfaction of students in the program
- Student recruitment that is in line with the stated objectives of the program
Process Followed for Current Review
Using guidelines developed by the PRC, information regarding student and key instructor satisfaction about the Apparel Design/Manufacturing program was gathered from the program director, instructors and students of the major. For this review, the advisory committee members and employers affiliated with the program were not contacted, nor was data from the university administration reflecting on enrollment, program cost, and placement collected or reported. There were 32 responses to the student survey, one response to the key instructor survey from an instructor within the major, and three responses from key instructors outside of the program who service this major.
The consultant met with the program director three times during the 2001-2002 academic year, and the program director appeared before the PRC on April 12, 2002 to present a summary of her self-study report and to respond to concerns. The student survey includes thirty-two respondents. In addition there were two key instructors within the program and three instructors from other programs, who provided services to the major, that responded to the survey. While there were two key instructors with the program who did not respond to the survey, comments from the one survey received, and from the three from non-program instructors will be used as verification for data reported from the student surveys.
The questions that will be answered by this report are aligned with the imperatives issued during the last program report in 2001, which concerned reporting on the level of student and instructor satisfaction. The committee believes that this report will provide them with data of whether student satisfaction with the program, the instructors, and with the quality of advisement they receive has improved in the past academic year.
Overall, student responses to the part of the survey (questions ten through twenty-six) that deals with program issues are higher in terms of satisfaction. Comparing the median scores from the previous survey with the present survey, scores appear to be some 12% higher overall. The categories with the largest amount of student-reported improvement are:
- Question 16 regarding advisement: 4.16 in 2002 compared to 3.60 in 2001
- Question 17 regarding instructor availability: 4.09 compared to 3.90 in 2001
- Question 18 regarding the provision of current information: 3.91 compared to 3.43 in 2001
Much of my analysis of the data collected in February, 2002 centers around answering the six imperatives that were issued by the PRC in May, 2001. The imperative statements and the data suggesting change has occurred are found below.
Improvement of faculty relations and professionalism of the AD/M program
While the key non-program instructor surveys do not report any problems or difficulties in this area, the single program instructor to submit a survey seems to report that certain tensions may still exist in this area of regard. I have quoted the instructor’s statement in survey in question 19:
- What do you believe are the major strengths of the program?
Comment from Key Instructor:
"A portion of the staff is actively striving to renew the program. Others are not providing support and enthusiasm to save the program. Student involovement is a major strength – they also know which faculty are here to support them."
The improvement of faculty/student relations
Of the responses taken from questions 30, 31 and 33 in the 2000-2001 survey, eleven of them show student concern with faculty-to-faculty or student-to-faculty relations. In the 2001-2002 survey, that number drops to two similar complaints. Many of the responses in the 2000-2001 surveys seemed to be directly critical of the program director. Only one student comment indicated that any unhappiness remained in the 2001-2002 surveys. This response seems to be a significant improvement over the tone of the previous survey.
The promotion of student confidence in the program
In the previous survey, there were nine responses from students who felt that they were not given the opportunity to build the knowledge or skills that would help them to find employment in their industry after graduation. In the present survey, that number drops to five. I believe this to be both a small positive step and a source of caution that the AD/M program can use to foster continuing improvements in courses, classes and lab facilities.
The adoption of a curriculum that has the support of the student body and the Program Advisory Committee
This item is not covered in this report, but it’s useful to observe the comments of several students that some courses had been strengthened since they had taken them. Although a reassessment further development of the core curriculum in the AD/M major is not scheduled to be accomplished until the next academic year, it seems significant that some existing courses in the curriculum are already being worked on by the faculty.
The improvement of student advisement to the satisfaction of students in the program
Advisement is one of the categories in this report that shows the largest amount of gain over the previous report, an obvious reflection to the change from a single advisor to four faculty members doing advisement. In the survey questions, the response to the question that asks directly about the quality of advisement has the highest total satisfaction response of all the questions on the survey. In addition, nine responses from students complained about the quality of advisement in the 2000-2001 survey. In the 2001-2002 survey, there were no student complaints about the quality of advisement, which would seem to be another significant improvement in student attitude toward the AD/M program.
Student recruitment that is in line with the stated objectives of the program
This item is also not covered in this report. However, it would be prudent to be aware of the fact that there has been program enrollment growth during the present academic year. The AD/M program director reports that the limit for new students in the fall of 2002 (75) has been reached, and that given an appropriate “show” rate for new-student applicants, the program should be able to enroll 50 more students than will graduate in the 2001-2002 academic year. This growth should contribute significantly to lower per-credit costs of the program in the future, but also presents some problems in terms of raising the level of need for lab and classroom facility in the AD/M program.
Issues of Concern
While there has been significant progress in the past academic year with improving student satisfaction with the AD/M program, there are also areas of concern. In the analysis of questions ten through twenty-six in the survey, scores did not improve in all categories. Still among the lowest scores for responses from students involved the general dissatisfaction with the quality of the library resources, the lab facilities and the age of the equipment used in the hands-on portion of this program. The comments in the current survey are a slight improvement over last year’s general feeling of, “Worse labs on campus,” but should still be a cause for concern. Lack of classroom space, and the inconvenience presented by having labs in two buildings was another comment that should be examined seriously. These concerns by students seem also to be reflected by responses in the key instructor surveys to both groups of instructors.
Additionally, the lowest item mean for this group of questions was scored in question 22, which discussed the course overlap. This is still a significant issue among students. The program director points out that perhaps this is because the program changes that the previously survey results seemed to demand have not yet been initiated, and will not be in place until next year. It should also be noted that the responses to question 14 regarding overlap have been answered by the non-program instructors as, “Some minor overlap exists with psychology/sociology classes and the other international classes, but nothing that necessitates change.” This comment does not align with the comments and scores reported in the student survey.
During the previous survey process, I distinctly recall that students seemed not to mind the fact that answering the questionnaire took up a significant portion of their class time. The students that I surveyed last year seemed to be casual about the survey and some seemed eager to respond to the questions. During the survey process for the current survey, the impression I had was that the students were less eager to respond to the questionnaire, and were more motivated to get that task over with and get back to their work. This would seem to reflect an increased level of motivation on the part of the students. The program director indicates that many classes in this major have been strengthened in both their curriculum sequence and in the technical content of their subject matter. Perhaps this indicates that students are now more interested in achieving success with their projects in the current academic year.