University of Wisconsin - Stout

Purpose of the Review

The review was conducted to assess the quality of the Apparel Design and Development degree program continuing to pursue recommendations developed by the PRC in May 2001.

B.S. Apparel Design and Development
Program Director
Dr. Rita Christoffersen
PRC Consultants
Howard Nelson and Mingshen Wu
Date of Last Review
May, 2001, with status reports made in May 2002 and May 2003.
Committee Findings
The committee recommends continuation of this program through the next scheduled review in 2007-2008


The Apparel Design and Development program prepares graduates for professional careers in the apparel industry.  Few programs of its kind are offered within the University of Wisconsin System.  Graduates in the program earn 124 credits during their college careers. Of these, 42 credits are in general education subjects, which is consistent with the university’s policy. All students in the program are also required to take 44 credits in their professiona1 core plus 17-18 credits in the business core, and at least one technical concentration of 15 credits in Apparel Design, Apparel Development or Apparel Product Management. The program utilizes seven laboratories, including textiles, textiles evaluation, apparel design, apparel CAD, historic costume, knit design and development, 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 (now the Human Resources Leadership Council) in February 2003 until February 2008.

Process Followed for Current Review

Using guidelines developed by the PRC, data regarding the Apparel Design and Development program was gathered from the program director, student surveys, key instructor surveys, advisory committee member surveys, employers, and university data on enrollment, program cost, and placement.  The consultants met regularly with the program director, and the program director appeared before the PRC on March 19, 2004 to present a summary of her self-study report and to respond to concerns.  The student survey includes seventy-two respondents; the advisory committee survey includes eight respondents, and there were four responses from key instructors within the major and two from key instructors outside the major. The consultants also compared the program data with all-university data that is published, and conducted interviews of associated faculty and staff from across campus.

Past Review

In 2001, the committee was unable to recommend continuation of the Apparel Design/Manufacturing 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 responding to the question: “Should the Apparel Design/Manufacturing program be continued?”

The dean responded affirmatively to this question by citing increasing program enrollment, strong industry support and substantial student interest in the program. In the dean’s plan to re-vitalize the Apparel Design/Manufacturing program, a new program director was named and responses to student concerns were addressed. Especially noted in the previous review was the imperative for the new program. The PRC requested that the new program director should address the following items cited as problems in the data that was collected for this review:

In May 2001, the PRC issued a three-year plan of study charged with the continuous assessment of the Apparel Design/Manufacturing after the failure of the program to attain PRC recommendation to the Faculty Senate to continue the program in its present format. The three-year plan to assess the quality of the program was put into effect to study the effects of changes made to the program by new leadership provided by Dr. Rita Christoffersen.

In the first year of the plan, student and key instructor satisfaction were measured and assessed in an attempt to provide the committee with a snapshot of student and key instructor satisfaction with the change in direction and leadership of the Apparel Design/Manufacturing degree program. In April 2002, a status report reviewed the progress of the program in accordance with the plan outlined above. During this status report, student (response, n=32) and key instructor (response, n=4) surveys were collected and assessed. At that review, the surveys indicated the students were satisfied that the program, in part, responded to their needs. During that review, the six questions mentioned above were addressed. The committee determined that these questions were answered by the review in an affirmative manner, and the program made progress in improved student satisfaction, student advisement, key instructor satisfaction, and a more fully supported curriculum. The CTEM dean continued to express his support for the program during that first program status report.

In the second phase of the three-year reassessment plan, the PRC assessed the change in program mission, student recruiting and enrollment. That review dealt with questions raised by changing the program mission to make it more responsive to the needs of both industry and the student population, and the changes that made student recruiting align with the expressed needs of industry and the objectives of the program.

During the summer of 2002, the Apparel Design/Manufacturing program submitted an extensive program change to the Curriculum and Instruction Committee, which was subsequently passed by CIC. As a result, new curriculum was approved that better aligned curriculum with program mission and recruiting, and the program was renamed as Apparel Design and Development. The director’s report covered in detail how the restructuring of the Program Advisory Committee to include advisors who are students, technical designers and creative designers better served the needs of the students while increasing the relevance of the program. The same report also addressed the results of a focused recruiting program that increased program enrollment to 160 students, doubling historical enrollment rates.

The PRC considered and approved both status reports, and expressed considerable satisfaction that student satisfaction and confidence, student advisement, program mission, and program recruiting had all improved during the period of the status reports (May 2001 – May 2003). The status reports for those years cited improvements in faculty-to-faculty relations, faculty-to-student relations, student advisement, and student confidence that they were being well prepared for professional careers in this field.

In the third year of this plan, the committee is scheduled to conduct a complete program review on the Apparel Design and Manufacturing program as part of a periodic review of this program in addition to the ongoing seven-year review cycle of all UW-Stout major programs. The program director’s report addressed how the program mission and curriculum were restructured to provide instruction more in tune with industry conditions, shifting production capabilities and potential job markets for our graduates.

Program Review

Program Strengths

Program Size
According to the UW-Stout Fact Book (2001-2002), the Apparel Design and Development program has 159 enrolled FTE students. This is an increase of 146% over the 2000 enrollment during the last full review of the PRC. The enrollment increase is confirmed by the corresponding increase in Student Credit Hours for the Apparel Design and Development program. Since the 2000 review, SCH production in the program has risen from 1,591 to 2,234, an increase of 141 %.
Program efficiency
Program efficiency has also increased as reflected in the Credits Attempted report of the 11 graduates of the program in 2003. They attempted 133 credits to attain the 124 needed for graduation, 10 less than the 143 credits attempted by graduates of the Apparel Design and Development program in 2000.
Graduate employment
Graduate employment in the major was 100% in 2003, unchanged from the placement rate for graduates of the program since 1997-1998 when the placement rate was 94.4%.
Practical emphases of the program
Students, faculty, and advisory board respondents praised the practical nature of the program: the use of laboratories, the relationships with industry, and the technical information imparted and used in classes. Forty percent of students who responded to the student survey acknowledged the perceived value of hands-on learning and direct application of course material learned to their future careers.
Student Satisfaction (as expressed in the student survey, questions 1-20)
In nineteen of the 20 objective questions in the survey, student responses scored above the median for the same questions of all majors surveyed across campus in 2003-2004. On a five-point Likert scale, Apparel Design and Development students responded higher than other majors surveyed by an average of 11%. Among the largest gains in satisfaction were Question 8 (My advisor is available on a routine basis) at 20% above the campus mean, Question 14 (My program has unnecessary repetition of overlap of content) at 20% below the campus mean, Question 16 (As I near the completion of my degree, I feel confident that my program has prepared me to be successful in my profession) at 18% above, Question 17 (Overall, this is a quality program) at 15% above, and Question 18 (If I had it to do all over again, I would choose this program) also at 15% above.
Student Advisement
Seventeen percent of students who responded to the survey indicated that advisement and faculty availability was a strength of the program, with comments like, “Open professors” and, “Availability and closeness with professors.”
Student confidence in the program faculty
Fifty-six percent of respondents indicated that they had confidence in their faculty with comments like, “I think this program teaches you a lot of what you will need to know in the actual workforce and keeps up-to-date with the industry” and The education, I feel, I am receiving far exceeds what I had expected.” These expressed feelings are confirmed by similar comments from the Program Advisory Committee whose members made similar comments as, “Good new faculty. Faculty working as a team” and “Dedicated faculty and a strong student body.” In an improvement from the prior review, only 8% of students expressed concerns about curriculum issues in the Apparel Design and Development major.

Issues of Concern

  1. Of the comments made by students in the program, eighteen percent of those indicated that some students felt that they were overworked in the program. Some cited lack of sleep, too much homework and inadequate lab hours to cover the range of assignments they were dealing with. An additional 32% confirmed that the facility, equipment problems and a shortage of lab hours available to complete homework assignment were a weakness. Additionally, 28% of student respondents cited “Not enough faculty” as a program concern. Under the heading of Program Improvement, 32% of students identified equipment problems, facility problems and lack of adequate lab hours as items for improvement. Further, 25% of respondents identified lack of adequate faculty as an opportunity for program improvement. This is reflected in comments by Program Advisory Committee members like, “Increasing (sic) faculty allocations.  Updating classroom facilities”and “Labs are in a sorry state. They all need to be improved/modernized.” Key Faculty Surveys also indicate that classrooms and equipment are a perceived weakness, despite college and department efforts and allocations of resources to improve and modernize their physical plant and equipment. This may also be confirmed by the only question in the student survey that scored lower than the campus mean. Question 15 (My program requirements can be completed in a reasonable time) had a mean score 1% lower than the campus mean.

    It would appear that funding sources for these projects would be needed in the future. Since the Apparel Design and Development program is an industry-based program, the Apparel Design and Development faculty and program director should be strongly encouraged to seek financial support and cooperation from industry. PRC members also encourage the program director, department chair and dean to consider increasing student exposure to Computer Aided Design (CAD) as an important technology that will enhance teaching and learning in the major.

  2. While comments from students, faculty and program advisory committee members about faculty shortages and facility inadequacies are not unfamiliar topics for the PRC, the consultants question if the choice available here is that of either adding faculty and equipment or right-sizing the program. The dramatic increase in enrollment indicates that changes made to the curriculum during this three-year review process have been met in the marketplace with enthusiasm, but the SCH production of the major (620.6 per instructor) seems to indicate that the program is stretched to the limits of its resources. With the ongoing budget problems in the University of Wisconsin System, and the onrushing specter of student rank-in-class bulge within Apparel Design and Development enrollment, the option of enrollment caps may have to be explored if qualified faculty cannot be added to the Apparel Design and Development program in the next academic year. Several student comments were directed to the notion that “Teaching Assistants” may be an inexpensive alternative to choosing either adding faculty or right-sizing the program, at least on an interim basis.
  3. During the three years of the review process of the Apparel Design and Development program, it would appear that a personnel issue is a key element in the committee’s recommendations to the Dean of the College of Technology, Engineering and Management in 2001. In that report we suggest, “…that intellectual, professional, and political differences have not been resolved in the process of program revision.  Consequently, the committee believes the stakeholders of this program have failed to achieve a common sense of purpose, and the committee shares the program director’s concern about the future of the Apparel Design and Development program.”
  4. Recently, it has come to the attention of the committee that the Apparel Design and Development Program Director is scheduled to go on sabbatical leave during the coming academic year. During her absence, plans have been made to leave Apparel Design and Development program direction in the hands of an academic staff member. The vacancy that her sabbatical leave will create will be partially filled by the return of a full-time faculty member who has been on extended special assignment. However, it remains an unresolved question in the minds of committee members as to whether program leadership will be focused on continuing to build on the success of the recent past, or will be inadvertently allowed revert to its prior state. It occurs to the committee that the situation surrounding the program director’s scheduled sabbatical leave provides the university with a valuable opportunity to reflect on formulating a succession plan for the faculty and staff of the Apparel Design and Development program that will identify and specify future personnel resources, and be ready to provide these resources in order to fill impending vacancies in the program.

Recommendations for the Apparel Design and Development Faculty, Program Director, Department Chair and Dean

  1. Since lab modernization is an ongoing need for courses using lab-based curriculum, continue renovating and improving classrooms and lab facilities and incorporate new equipment.
  2. Encourage and support faculty and the program director in their efforts to develop and increase industry and other outside funding support for the major.
  3. Provide additional qualified faculty and staff as needed to support the current enrollment levels in the major.
  4. Create and implement a succession plan for faculty and staff for the Apparel Design and Development program to ensure faculty continuity, facilitate future student satisfaction and strengthen student enrollment.
  5. Plan for any future enrollment caps that may be needed to right size the major once the personnel issues identified above have been addressed.