University of Wisconsin - Stout

Purpose of the Review

The review was conducted to assess the quality of the Retail Merchandising and Management, (RMM) degree program as part of the ongoing seven-year review cycle of every UW-Stout program.

B.S. Retail Merchandising and Management
Program Director
Dr. Kathleen Cochran
PRC Consultants
David Fly and Annette Taylor
Date of Review
April 12, 2002
Committee Findings
The committee recommends continuation of this program for the ongoing seven-year cycle and implementation of committee recommendations.  Continued attention should be directed to the concerns regarding communications between the program director and key instructors and the program committee. Long range planning for facilities is needed to support this program.  The program has done a good job in addressing the concerns of the last report regarding course overlap and improving advisement. The PRC sees these as areas for continuous review and improvement.  Graduates of the program continue to express dissatisfaction in the survey question "Would you enroll in the same program?"


The Retail Merchandising and Management (RMM) serves the retail industry, an industry that continues to have enormous prospects for growth.  RMM has articulation agreements with five Wisconsin technical colleges and two community/technical colleges in Minnesota.  The degree requires 27 credits in the major and includes 42 credits of general education. The RMM Assessment in the Major plan is under revision and a new plan will be submitted for this academic year.  The RMM program provides opportunities for several concentrations and related minors.  The concentrations with the program allows for from 7-15 credits of free electives.

The review included a presentation by the program director, review of the recommendations from the last review; placement, graduate and employer follow-up data; current student and key instructor surveys.  While the consultants found that major concerns raised in the last program review in 1993-1994 relating to advising and course overlap have been satisfactorily dealt with by the current program director, these are areas that require continuing vigilance, review, and revision, as necessary.

Concern was identified regarding communication with the key instructors and input from the program committee.  There are additional concerns regarding the facilities and the long range plans for the Home Economics Building. Also, while the existing separation of this program from CTEM is being made to work, there would be greater staff flexibility and efficiencies if this program could be located in the Jarvis/Micheels complex.

Process Followed for Current Review:

Standard PRC procedures were followed including a report from the program director; review of the last program review; review of placement, graduate and employer follow-up data; and current student and key instructor surveys.  The Program Director presented the RMM report to the full PRC at its March 1, 2002 meeting and this consultants’ response/report is provided as the next step in the review.  A response from the Dean will follow this document.

Previous Review

The 1994-95 review recommended continuation of the program and included a requirement for a status report regarding course overlap, advisement and lack of key instructor survey participation. This status report was done in April of 1996.

Previous Recommendations

  1. Three areas of serious concern were:
    1. Advisement
    2. Student perceptions of course overlap.
    3. Insufficient survey data from key instructors.


    Based on the survey results for this review, it appears that there has been significant improvement in the areas of course overlap and advisement. Two of four key instructors from within the department responded to the survey. Three of the three key instructors from outside the department responded to the survey.

  2. The program director was encouraged to meet regularly with the on-campus advisory committee.


    The issue of a program advisory committee has not been addressed although the program director assured the PRC that this committee would be revitalized.

  3. Encouragement was offered regarding professional development and concerns were expressed regarding workload.


    Issues identified in the earlier review did not show up in this review.

  4. Duplication of resources due to course between Interior Decorating and Interior Design should be monitored.


    This issue did not reoccur in this review.

  5. Low levels of student satisfaction were identified.


    Follow-up surveys show that there continues to be a low level of graduates, who if given the choice, would enroll in this program again.The program director indicated that students continue to have unrealistic expectations of the careers in this field in spite of efforts to prepare students for the retail world.

  6. The use of alternative methods of providing advisement information was recommended.


    Because advisement had improved since the last review, this was not pursued by the PRC.

Program Review

Program Strengths

The students are satisfied with advising. Source: Student surveys
Students are satisfied with instructor accessibility and their ability to provide current information. Source: Student surveys
Course Overlap
While this has been a concern in previous program reviews, the RMM program has survey results approximately the same as the student surveys for all the programs. Source: Student surveys within program, student surveys for all programs.
Responsive to Industry Requirements
The program has shifted from product knowledge to more quantitative analysis in response to changes in the needs of the industry as reflected in surveys of retailers. Source: Self-Study and Presentation

Program Issues

Several surveys indicated a need for more communication and participation of key instructors.  It should be noted that this is a small group to survey. Source: Key instructor surveys.
Three-Year Follow-Up Survey
The three-year follow up survey has consistently low scores on the question, “Would you take this program again?” Students need to have a more realistic view of the field they are entering. Source: Undergraduate three-year follow-up survey.
Program Committee
Comments on this issue indicate that the program committee is in an inactive state. The Program Director has indicated that more effort is being put into advisory groups. Source: Program committee member survey and Program Director presentation.
Inadequate Facilities
Survey responses and the report indicate a need to look at facilities and plan for future needs. Source: Student surveys, RMM Report and presentation, and discussion of PRC.

Recommendations to the Program Director

  1. Develop and implement a plan to improve participation and communication with the Key Instructors and the Program Advisory Committee.
  2. Continue efforts to eliminate course overlap and duplication.
  3. Continue positive work to improve advising.
  4. Continue to help students have a realistic understanding of the pros and cons of their career field.
  5. Conduct a program specific follow up analysis to determine why students would not enroll in the same program after they have been in the field for several years.

Recommendations to the Department Chair

Discuss classroom and lab facilities with key faculty to get recommendations on improvements.

Recommendations to the Dean

Identify and seek approval for appropriate space to replace space that will be lost in Home Economics. (A possibility would be converting the Micheels computer lab as the laptop program replaces the need for a large computer lab.)