University of Wisconsin - Stout

Purpose of the Review

This review is conducted to assess the M.S. in Home Economics program's quality as part of the on-going seven year review cycle required of all UW-Stout degree programs.

Masters of Sciences in Home Economics
Program Director
Karen Zimmerman
PRC Consultants
Brian Finder and Hugh Williamson
Date of Review
Spring 2002
Committee Findings
The PRC recommends that this program continue to function as one of UW-Stout's degree programs for the ongoing seven-year cycle, and recommendations made by the committee be implemented.


The Master of Science in Home Economics program provides graduate educational experience that prepares students for professional careers in industry, commerce, education, and human services.  This program combines a core of graduate-only research and professional development-based courses with the option of pursuing four student-tailored concentrations in the following areas:

The consultants have found that attempts to address major concerns raised in the last program review in 1993-1994 as it relates to conducting biannual program advisory committee and program director load have been satisfactorily dealt with by the current program director.  Additional recommendations for program improvement include gaining consensus on a program name, increasing program committee involvement, providing additional human resources to certain program concentrations, research ways to improve student-based program assessment, consider increasing the manner in which technology is promoted amongst the various concentrations, and investigate the means of promoting the program to prospective students.

Process Followed for the Current Review

Under the guidelines developed by the PRC, information regarding the program was gathered via surveys from the Placement Office, Institutional Research, the Program Director, key instructors, Program Committee, current students, as well as one and three-year graduates. Observations were made by the consultants based on these surveys, a facility walk-through, and institutional data. The findings were reported to and discussed by the PRC. The Program Director presented a summary of her report to the committee and had an opportunity to address concerns.

Previous Review:

Previous Recommendations

The previous review of the M.S. Home Economics was conducted in AY 1994-95.  Phil Sawin and Elbert Sorrell served as consultants.  That report included the following recommendations:


The Dean responded to the above three recommendations.  No status report was required.

Program Review

Program Strengths

Program Director
The Program Director provides leadership in terms of student advisement, flexibility, service, availability, and program-related knowledge (Source: Student surveys, faculty surveys, program committee surveys)
Program Flexibility and Course Scheduling
Students can tailor their program of study to individual needs with predominantly weekend/summer-based courses (Source: Program Director, student surveys, faculty surveys, program committee surveys)
Lab/Classroom Facilities
Existing facilities indicated a wide breadth of current instrumentation/ equipment as well as classrooms/labs (Source: Tour of existing facilities in the Home Economics Building and Fryklund Hall)
Graduate Demand
Current as well as future demand for graduates is strong (in areas of FCSE teachers, Family Living and 4H Youth agents, Early Childhood Education, and university-level faculty in Family and Consumer Education) (Source: Program Director (per The Journal of Family & Consumer Sciences and the 2001 Wisconsin DPI Supply & Demand publication))
Pedagogical Currency of Faculty
All key instructors within the program have terminal degrees, are actively engaged in research/scholarly activity, and provide up-to-date information in the courses they teach (Source:Program Director, student surveys, faculty surveys)
Program Assessment Processes
Multiple sources (i.e., students, conferences, professional literature, previous graduates, employers) are used to determine the need for program revision (Source: Program Director)
Learning Processes
Experiential learning is given individual consideration as it relates to seminar-based courses, co-ops, practicum’s, practice teaching, and the application of technology  (Source: Program Director, student surveys)

Program Opportunities

Program Name
Concern exists regarding the ability of the current program name to appropriately represent the four concentrations housed within it (Source: Program Director, student surveys, faculty surveys, program committee surveys)
Program Committee Involvement
The program advisory committee has not formally met since the fall of 2000 (Source: Program Director).
Human Resource and Course Needs
The need for key faculty to meet the requirements of various undergraduate programs limits the amount of resources and courses required to support the Early Childhood, Family Studies and Human Development, as well as the Family & Consumer Education concentrations of the graduate program.  (Source: Program Director, student surveys, faculty surveys, program committee surveys)
Student Program Assessment
In an AY 2000 program assessment, Students enrolled in the Early Childhood, Family and Consumer Education, and the Family Studies and Human Development concentrations consistently rated the program’s objective to “Promote understanding and use of technology” as low (Source: Program Director)
Student Enrollments
From the Fall of 1996 to the Fall of 2001, the number of students enrolled in the program decreased from 33 to 22 (-33%) while the number of generated student credit hours decreased from 223 to 138 (-38%). (Source: Office of Budget Planning)

Recommendations to the Program Director

  1. Encourage program faculty and committee members to agree on a program name that represents the four concentrations housed within it.
  2. Reestablish the process of formally meeting the advisory committee on a biannual basis.
  3. Research the opportunities available to provide additional human resource as well as course-related support to the Early Childhood, Family Studies and Human Development, as well as the Family & Consumer Education concentrations.
  4. Consider improving the student assessment process as well as the means by which technology use is promoted within the various concentrations. 
  5. Investigate the means of further promoting the program to prospective students and thus take advantage of current/projected demands for program graduates.
  6. Narrow and strengthen the focus of the program.  Consider housing one or more of the four concentrations under other Master’s degrees.

Recommendations to the Department Chair

  1. Encourage the key faculty to gain consensus on a program name that represents the four concentrations housed within it.
  2. Support the research of opportunities available to provide additional human resources and courses to bolster the Early Childhood, Family Studies & Human Development, and Family & Consumer Education concentrations of the graduate program. 

Recommendations to the Dean

  1. Support efforts of the program director as it relates to boosting graduate student enrollments and meeting identified human resource needs.