Clothing and Textile Curricula in Higher Education

By Albanese, Carolyn A.; O'Neill, Karen et al. | Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, Winter 1998 | Go to article overview

Clothing and Textile Curricula in Higher Education


Albanese, Carolyn A., O'Neill, Karen, Hines, Jean D., Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences


ABSTRACT

Analyses of 64 college clothing and textiles degree programs in the United States were conducted to develop a profile of required courses. Required content courses in general textiles and apparel, fashion and apparel design, retailing and merchandising, and manufacturing and production were studied using standard content-analysis methods. Only four courses were required by at least 50% of the programs, regardless of emphasis: basic construction, history of costume, textiles, and social/psychological/cultural aspects of clothing. The study provides baseline data for curricular change and for further research to study the effectiveness of programs in meeting current and future needs of professionals being prepared for textiles and apparel careers.

In times of diminishing resources, administrators and faculty members in institutions of higher learning are challenged to justify the importance of their programs. Simply having a history of success does not ensure the continuance of a program, as evidenced by the elimination of fine academic programs in family and consumer sciences across the United States in recent years. Internal and external assessments of academic programs are common today. However, assessment of programs in clothing and textiles is especially difficult to conduct. Although a subcommittee of the International Textiles and Clothing Association drafted a set of recommended core competencies for clothing and textiles programs (Feathers, 1993a, 1993b), the guidelines have not been adopted by the membership (Kaiser, 1994). Thus, there is neither a nationally accepted knowledge base, common body of theory, or core curriculum against which a program can be compared, nor an accreditation body that could provide specific standards and guidelines against which a program can be measured. Nonetheless, efforts should be made to establish benchmark standards or requirements for the purpose of developing and promoting excellence in the field and securing the field of study for future generations.

One method for establishing benchmark data is to identify the courses that institutions across the United States are currently requiring in clothing and textiles programs. Results from such a study could be used as a starting point for later evaluating and assessing the extent to which current requirements meet the needs of the profession. Additionally, results would identify commonly required courses among the different areas of emphasis within clothing and textiles which might be viewed as "core curriculum," a core that could then be evaluated for adequacy or need.

Previous clothing and textiles curriculum studies have used college catalogs to gather information about programs and institutions (Lind, 1989; Johnson & Swope, 1972; Rudd, 1981) and to identify types of programs and curricular elements in them (Garner, 1985; Garner & Buckley, 1988; Laughlin & Kean, 1995; Lind, 1989; Neal, 1981). This information has been used to develop survey instruments to assess perceptions and opinions of curricula by faculty, graduates of programs, and employers (Garner, 1985; Garner & Buckley, 1988; Johnson & Swope, 1972; Laughlin & Kean, 1995; Neal, 1981; Rudd,1981). However, no recent study that specifically identified a national profile of required courses in clothing and textiles programs was located. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to develop such a profile of baccalaureate programs and required courses.

METHOD

Sample

The sample for this study was drawn from the U.S. institutions of higher education with active faculty members in the International Textiles and Apparel Association (ITAA). This organization was chosen because it is the largest organization representing clothing and textile academic professionals and their affiliated institutions. Postcards requesting an undergraduate catalog with program descriptions were sent to a random selection of one-half (122) of the 244 institutions listed in the ITAA Membership Directory, which offered baccalaureate degrees.

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