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Internal and external influences on program-level curriculum development in higher education fashion merchandising programs

Dissertation
Author: Janice E. King
Abstract:
In an ever changing global economy, higher education experiences accountability issues in educating the workforce. Graduates require the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the global workplace. For graduates to have the opportunity to attain this understanding and expertise, it is critical to identify what influences curriculum development to create a curriculum that meets workplace needs. The purpose of this study was to contribute to a better understanding of curriculum development in higher education fashion merchandising programs. More specifically what impacts the curriculum and if skill standard(s) and/or competency list(s), are used when developing program-level curriculum for higher education fashion merchandising programs. Descriptive research examined the internal and external influences and standard(s) and/or competency list(s) used in curriculum development. Electronically, an invitation to participate and the survey instrument were sent to faculty in apparel and textile programs across the United States. Data were collected from 96 apparel and textile faculty. Data revealed internal influences, more so than external influences, impacted curriculum development in higher education fashion merchandising programs. The largest percentage and extent of internal influence on curriculum development in higher education fashion merchandising programs was faculty background; program mission was also a major internal influence. The largest percentage and extent of external influence on curriculum development in higher education fashion merchandising programs was marketplace/employers. No statistically significant relationship was found between the participants' type of institution (undergraduate and graduate granting) and internal and external influences. However, more research is called for to examine the specific internal influence of program mission and the external influence of marketplace/employers. Current curriculum influences, skill standard(s) and/or competency list(s) used, and type of institution were examined in this research study. The study proposes that the higher education fashion merchandising curriculum is influenced, in varying degrees, by internal and external influences and that skill standard(s) and/or competency list(s) from many sources are used in curriculum development. Undergraduate or graduate institutions were not differentially influenced by internal or external factors.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

ABSTRACT ..................................................................................................................... i ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ............................................................................................ iii LIST OF TABLES ......................................................................................................... iv LIST OF FIGURES ........................................................................................................ v CHAPTERS CHAPTER 1 – Introduction................................................................................ 1 Need for Study ........................................................................................... 1 Purpose of Study ........................................................................................ 3 Statement of the Problem ........................................................................... 4 Research Questions .................................................................................... 4 Delimitations and Assumptions ................................................................. 5 Limitations..................................................................................................5 Significance of Study ................................................................................. 5 Definition of Terms.................................................................................... 7 CHAPTER 2 – Literature Review ...................................................................... 9 Introduction ................................................................................................ 9 Higher Education Curriculum Development ............................................. 9 External and Internal Influences .............................................................. 13 Higher Education Fashion Merchandising Curriculum ........................... 16 Standards Use in Education ..................................................................... 20

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Standards Use in Fashion Merchandising ............................................... 26 Summary .................................................................................................. 29 CHAPTER 3 – Research Method ..................................................................... 30 Research Design....................................................................................... 30 Population and Sample ............................................................................ 30 Instrumentation ........................................................................................ 31 Instrument Reliability .............................................................................. 34 Pilot Study ................................................................................................ 35 Data Collection Procedures ...................................................................... 36 Data Analysis ........................................................................................... 36 CHAPTER 4 – Analysis of Data ...................................................................... 40 Introduction .............................................................................................. 40 Participant Data ........................................................................................ 40 Research Question 1 ....................................................................... 46 Research Question 2 ....................................................................... 49 Research Question 3 ....................................................................... 51 Research Question 4 ....................................................................... 59 Research Question 5 ....................................................................... 60 Research Question 6 ....................................................................... 61 Research Question 7 ....................................................................... 62 CHAPTER 5 – Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations ..................... 63 Summary .................................................................................................. 63 Findings.................................................................................................... 65

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Conclusions .............................................................................................. 67 Recommendations for Practice ................................................................ 71 Recommendations for Research .............................................................. 72 REFERENCES ............................................................................................................. 73 APPENDICES Appendix A: Cover Letter ........................................................................................... 85 Appendix B: Survey Instrument ................................................................................ 87 Appendix C SIUC Human Subjects Approval Document .......................................... 108 VITA ......................................................................................................................... 109

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LIST OF TABLES

TABLE PAGE

Table 1 .......................................................................................................................... 40 Table 2 .......................................................................................................................... 44 Table 3 .......................................................................................................................... 48 Table 4 .......................................................................................................................... 50 Table 5 .......................................................................................................................... 53 Table 6 .......................................................................................................................... 59 Table 7 .......................................................................................................................... 60 Table 8 .......................................................................................................................... 61 Table 9 .......................................................................................................................... 62

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION

Need for the Study The purpose of a curriculum in higher education is to provide students with the educational groundwork needed to secure a college degree. Curriculum definitions have included varying terminology, courses, activities, and/or experiences within a specific time period expressing a college‟s vision (Stark & Lattuca, 1997). Because of these varying definitions, the curriculum, in all aspects of higher education, has experienced many influences and changes while maintaining its importance to education. Whether influences and changes were historical, societal, governmental, political, industrial, economic, subject related or administrative and/or faculty initiated, the curriculum in higher education has evolved and grown throughout the centuries (Cohen, 1998). "…, the curriculum has historically served as an arena for discussion and debate about the ends and means of learning in higher education" (Conrad & Haworth, 1990, p. 2). Research about higher education curriculum has revealed several controversial issues. Curriculum planning models studied by Conrad and Pratt (1983) found that most models were not useful and were confusing. Problems with or weaknesses of curriculum planning models were identified and included the following: 1. Models did not recognize the impact of internal and external influences. 2. Individual curriculum components were emphasized. 3. Models were narrow and demanding and allowed for little explanation and description.

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4. Nontraditional curriculum was not integrated sufficiently into curriculums. 5. Models were abstract and not applicable to planning. (pp. 16-17) A 1997 report written for the U.S. Department of Education by the National Post Secondary Education Cooperative revealed that changes were needed in postsecondary education. Cited in the report were the following problems: increasing costs, the global marketplace, accreditation requirements, poor management, students unable to find employment after graduation, dissatisfied employers, and refusal to respond to assessment measures (NPEC, 1997). Stark and Lattuca (1997) reported that since 1980 the demand by external forces for assessment measures in higher education has been met with resistance. Higher education institutions are confronted with many of the same concerns as business: limited resources, increased competition, demands for accountability, and high expectations from constituents for service and flexibility. Scarce resources and ever-increasing expectations for performance and accountability are not temporary maladies; instead, as is true with business and industry, these dynamics are characteristic of the higher education operating environment. (Guy, 2005, pp. 2-3) A variety of outcome-based curriculum research revealed a relationship between academic achievement of students, academic behavior, learning progress, courses, and sequence of courses taken (Stark & Lattuca, 1997). Bailey and Badway (2002) stated that curriculum in 4-year colleges was more focused and organized in a series of courses. The courses and sequence of courses make up curriculum.

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In the occupational/career-technical curriculum, knowledge and skills are applied in the curriculum. Occupational/career-technical areas of study include a broad range of major fields: agriculture, health careers, business, industrial technology and engineering, and family and consumer sciences. Family and consumer sciences include the fields of " nutrition and dietetics, hospitality and food management, food science, clothing and textiles, fashion and apparel, child development, consumer affairs, and gerontology" (Shelton, 2004, pp. 1-2). Clothing and textiles and fashion and apparel specializations include areas in textiles, design, and retail/merchandising. Numerous terms within the field (clothing, apparel, and fashion) are used interchangeably in programs of higher education. Fashion merchandising is one titled major within the field of family and consumer sciences. Purpose of the Study Curriculum research in higher education has focused on many program aspects: type and number of courses, course content, course sequence, and course completion for graduation. Stark and Lattuca (1997) stated, "additional studies should focus on the relations among elements of the academic plan, as well as on how the environment and the plan elements are directly and indirectly affected by the internal, organizational, and external influences . . . " (pp. 383-384). No research has strictly identified internal or external influences when developing program-level curriculum in higher education fashion merchandising programs. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to contribute to a better understanding of program-level curriculum development influences on higher education fashion merchandising programs. This knowledge is crucial to assessing current status of

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curriculum development, strategic planning and marketing, and establishing important and critical higher education fashion merchandising programs that create a discipline and educate the future workforce (Laughlin & Kean, 1995). Statement of the Problem The problem of this study was to identify the extent of internal and external influences, more specifically use of skill standard(s) and/or competency list(s), in developing program-level curriculum for higher education fashion merchandising programs. Research Questions This study was designed to address the following research questions: 1. What internal influences impact program-level curriculum

development in higher-education fashion merchandising programs?

2. What external influences impact program-level curriculum

development in higher-education fashion merchandising programs?

3. What skill standard(s) and/or competency list(s) influence program-

level curriculum development in higher-education fashion

merchandising programs?

4. To what extent do internal influences impact curriculum in higher-

education fashion merchandising programs?

5. To what extent do external influences impact curriculum in higher-

education fashion merchandising programs?

6. What is the relationship between internal curriculum influences and

type of institution in higher-education fashion merchandising programs?

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7. What is the relationship between external curriculum influences and

type of institution in higher-education fashion merchandising

programs?

Delimitations and Assumptions In the conduct of this study, the delimitation of fashion faculties in the United States only participated in the study and it was assumed that: 1. Fashion merchandising faculties participate and correctly report program status. 2. Fashion merchandising faculties participate and accurately state curricular development process. 3. Fashion merchandising faculties hold common definitions for terminology used. Limitations This study was specific to the fashion merchandising discipline. Therefore, generalizing the study's' results to other disciplines is limited. Low response rate from participants was also a limitation. Significance of Study Stark and Lattuca (1997) recommended the higher education academic plan should include the following elements: "purpose, content, sequence, learners, instructional resources, instructional processes, evaluation, and adjustment" (p. 15-16). However, research about these elements revealed making and/or reworking the academic plan was inconsistent (Stark & Lattuca, 1997). Therefore, when changes occur in society

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and professions, what influences these elements impacts the timeliness and relevancy of the higher education curriculum (Shelton, 2004). Sunal, Hodges, Sunal, Whitaker, Freeman, and Edwards (2001) reported that numerous barriers prevented changes in the higher education teacher education curriculum. These barriers included a lack of professional development, a lack of acknowledgement when implementing changes into curriculum, learner outcomes not effected when changes in curriculum occurred, a "follow the leader" teaching method often used to implement the changes, and personal time and energy costs for the faculty member. The occupational/career-technical curriculum often uses skill standards to improve quality and accountability to meet what is required in the workplace (Aragon, Woo, & Marvel, 2005). Subramaniam (2007) found that in information technology, an occupational/career and technical major, the areas of standards/competencies, institutions and degree programs, and basic workplace skills needed to be reworked. The conditions that bring to light the qualification gap are the lack of consistency in the available industry standards framework, inadequate current competencies, disparity of the actual degree level and degree programs needed to perform IT work, lack of employability skills (soft skills) in IT workers and the failure of the current education

system to educate workers in foundations of mathematics and science

and advanced technical education which are elements necessary in IT

education. (p. 115)

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The more knowledge gained about current influences on curriculum development and the extent of the influences, the better equipped a college/department/program is to create, deliver, and assess an academic plan for educating the future workforce (Aragon, Woo, & Marvel, 2005). This study contributed to the research literature in higher education and fashion merchandising. Secondly, the study provided information regarding the internal and external influences impacting curriculum development in higher education fashion merchandising programs which is essential when developing and updating curriculums, writing and implementing new courses, hiring new faculty, and validating the curriculum. The study established a benchmark to gauge the extent of internal and external influences and the use of skill standard(s) and/or competency list(s) in higher education fashion merchandising curriculum development. Definition of Terms The following definitions are provided to assist in clarifying the problem to be studied: External Influences: Factors from outside the institution (society, associations, publications, accrediting agencies, employers and the job market) that influence curriculum (Stark & Lattuca, 1997). Fashion Merchandising: The area focusing on the planning, buying, and selling of the fashion related product. Higher Education: Institutions with two-year and/or more formal schooling culminating in an associate or baccalaureate degree.

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Internal Influences: Factors from within the institution (faculty backgrounds, educational beliefs, disciplines, and student characteristics/goals) and (program resources, interactions, guidance, and governance) that influence curriculum (Stark & Lattuca, 1997). Program-Level Curriculum: An academic plan. What a college/department considers valuable, suitable, and significant at the present time in the program (Stark & Lattuca, 1997). Skill Standard(s)/Competency List(s): What people need to know and be able to do in order to perform their jobs successfully (Aragon, Woo, & Marvel, 2005; SCANS, 1992). Type of Institution: Classification of colleges into two categories: Undergraduate Instructional Program where the majority of student numbers is in undergraduate programs and Graduate Instructional Program where the majority of student numbers is in graduate programs (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 2005).

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CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

Introduction The focus of this study was to identify the extent of internal and external influences, more specifically use of skill standard(s) and/or competency list(s), in program-level curriculum development in higher education fashion merchandising programs. This review of literature is presented in the following categories: (a) higher education curriculum development; (b) internal influences in higher education program- level curriculum development; (c) external influences in higher education program-level curriculum development; (d) higher education fashion merchandising curriculum development; and (e) standards-based curriculum in higher-education and fashion merchandising curriculums. Higher Education Curriculum Development Over the centuries, the purpose of higher education has shifted away from establishing character, career readiness, and expansion of cultural knowledge, language, and manners to the changes and demands of society. The college curriculum, with its myriad of complex purposes and assumptions, has evolved to meet these changes and demands and has remained the central core to higher education. Cohen (1998) stated that the curriculum, whether the courses or the combined experiences a college offers, is always considered “practical” and the curriculum always has a purpose. Historically, the curriculum has served a purpose to society. During the Colonial Era, if graduates were to work in the church, politics, or the court, the curriculum

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concentrated on speaking, the written classics, and religion. However, not everyone needed to attend college. If one apprenticed in a given field, then one entered that "profession" without attending college. As the purpose of attending college changed from becoming a minister, lawyer, or politician to entering other careers, the curriculum also changed. The classics continued to be a part of most curriculums. The sciences were slowly added and became a part of all colleges by the end of the 18 th Century (Stark & Lattuca, 1997). During the 19 th Century, colleges grew rapidly. Along with this growth came expansion in the curriculum. Religion and the sciences existed side by side. Numerous topics of study contributed to a consistent curriculum among the colleges. Formed to support industry, new technical colleges focused on mathematics, science, and engineering. The need for specialized study and designation of a major, to support changes in society, was occurring (Cohen, 1998). At the beginning of the 20 th Century, the general education curriculum became the focus in the four-year and the two-year community college, the latter beginning after the turn of the century. An increase in social ethics, the Great Depression, and the advent of a war necessitated curriculums to be more generalized offering students greater occupational opportunity. After WWII, curriculums became more specialized due to increased technology, to offer veterans a variety of choices, and to remain competitive with other countries (Stark & Lattuca, 1997). Curriculum specialization continued to increase. The growth of degree types, numbers of programs and identification of external research funds required an organized program format for colleges. Consequently, the Carnegie classification was developed in

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1970 to classify and identify enrollment numbers and the number of public and private institutions (UCES, 1994). The Carnegie classification system was updated in 2005 to recognize changes, similarities, and differences within and among undergraduate and graduate colleges and universities. Included in the new Carnegie classification system were two classifications about instructional programs, two classifications describing students enrolled, and one classification about the size and residential nature of undergraduate and graduate institutions (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 2005). Interest in the curriculum increased during the last three decades of the 20 th

Century. Research by Mayhew and Ford (1972) and education curriculum models developed by Berquist (1977) aligned knowledge and the curriculum along the following themes: heritage, thematic, competency, career, experience, students, values, and the future. Tierney (1991) contended these models ignored historical influences, the participants, and the cultural ideologies existing in institutions of higher education. Additional curriculum research, during the same time period, focused on strategic and program planning, course patterns, total quality management, credibility, achievement, and analysis of programs (Cope, 1987; Ratcliff, 1992; Seymour, 1991, 1993; Seymour, 1988; Zemsky, 1989). Stark and Lowther (1997) further expanded the curriculum research database by developing a generalized model of influences, their function, what they include, and their progression in the college educational environment. The theoretical model illustrated the interrelated connectivity between the components of influences, educational environment, educational process, and educational outcomes in higher education. The components of influences and educational

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environment were further broken down. The influence component resulted in three categories; external influences, organizational influences, and internal influences. The educational environment included the purpose, content, sequence, learners, instructional resources and processes and the evaluation of the academic plan. Stark and Lattuca (1997) further defined the curriculum as an academic plan and noted that an atmosphere for curriculum development in higher education was created when the external, organizational, and internal influences interacted. The conceptual framework developed for this study combined the organizational influences with the internal and external influences identified by Stark and Lattuca (1997). Internal influences included faculty background, academic discipline, students, program mission, governance, and program resources. External influences included society, government, professional associations, marketplace/employers, alumni, technology, and accrediting agency. Stark and Lattuca's (1997) framework also acknowledged the opportunity to evaluate and adjust the educational environment and the opportunity to make changes at different curriculum planning stages (intent and development, implementation, and reflective evaluation). It is during the reflective evaluation stage that the learner connects course-taking patterns to achievement and education outcomes (Ratcliff, 1992). The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (1977) also discussed the curriculum. Included were the topics of society, government, discipline associations and accreditation agencies, employers and the job market, alumni, sponsors, program relationships and resources, faculty, students, the discipline, and a program‟s mission.

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The multitude of these topics is often categorized into external, internal, and organizational influences. External and Internal Influences External influences such as government, society, the marketplace, alumni, technology, and discipline associations rarely influence the curriculum directly. Goals and objectives established by external influences are often interrelated and impact the curriculum through program funding (state or federally mandated, grants, and equipment), laws (state or federal), and accreditation and licensure requirements (Ellsworth, 2000). Guy (2005) noted that external forces play a significant part in organizations and their programs. External forces greatly impact the vocational curriculum. Jacobs (2001) stated that "the vocational curriculum, is determined by the demands of stakeholders outside of the institutions--firms, students, and professional associations" (p. 202). Because of the need to meet industry skill requirements, "curriculums are unable to change quickly because it is expected to behave and function like the academic program areas" (Jacobs, 2001, p. 202). Internal influences are strong forces in curriculum development because many of the entities reside within the institution. “In addition to faculty, internal influences include academic administrators, student characteristics, disciplines, program missions, and culture” (Verhovsek, 2003, p. 24). Research on faculty influences, when planning curriculum, date back to the early 1970s. Faculty involvement in curriculum planning resulted in research identifying planning and teaching courses, course content and skills, goals, and influences on faculty

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when planning entry-level and advanced courses (Angelo & Cross, 1993; Donald, 1983, 1990, 1992; Stark, Lowther, Bentley, Ryan, Martens, & Genthon, 1990; Stark, Lowther, Sharp, & Arnold, 1997). Further research by Conrad and Pratt (1983); Halliburton (1977a), (1977b); and Toombs and Tierney (1991) reported that the faculty is the center of academic study. How well the faculty plan, select classes to be studied, and share the academic plan of study with students determines the success of the program. The faculty creates the “structure, coherence, and integrity of a student‟s formal academic program” (Stark, Lowther, Sharp, & Arnold, 1997, p. 100). Stark, Lowther, Sharp, and Arnold (1997) found that program planning was not consistent and frequent; a catalyst and supportive work climate was often needed to encourage curriculum planning and curriculum planning was differentiated by institutions and/or academic disciplines. Faculty was influenced strongly by their educational beliefs, background, and academic discipline. Academic disciplines in the social sciences and the humanities were influenced by the direction of the disciplines and the willingness of faculty to engage in curriculum development often resulting in dissimilar educational beliefs and goals. Dissimilar educational beliefs and goals included personal growth, critical thinking, and career development and were often influenced by student characteristics and institutional goals and resources (Hubbard, 2006; Matney, 2001). Because of these differences, less consensus and coherence occurred among social science and humanities faculty during the curriculum and program planning process (Lattuca & Stark, 1994; Stark & Lattuca, 1993).

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Organizational influences evolve from the internal influences of the program and its institution (Verhovsek, 2003). The organizational influences of program resources, relationships, structure, culture, governance, and leadership significantly impact curriculum. According to Stark and Lattuca (1997), Most academic programs exist as part of a larger college context, supported by an organizational infrastructure. Aspects of this infrastructure, particularly college mission, financial stability, and governance arrangements, can have a strong influence on curriculum. The infrastructure provides support for the academic plan to be devised and carried out. (p. 18) The extent to which programs are influenced depends on the program, its institutional setting, the differences in the programs and the perception of the program from within and outside of the college (Stark & Lattuca, 1997). According to Jacobs (2000), vocational education faces the same extent of influences as academics. Higher Education Fashion Merchandising Curriculum Higher education fashion merchandising curriculum has evolved from a rich occupational/vocational/career-technical and home economics history. Vocational study developed alongside the classics and the sciences during the colonial era. Specialized study organized degrees in vocational occupations and during the Civil War, legislation supported vocational study with the Morrill Act of 1862. This act allowed states to establish colleges for the purpose "…to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts" (Cohen, 1998, p. 107). The Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 established the first federal legislation supporting vocational education.

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Vocational curriculums and colleges flourished with the federal money during the latter part of the 19 th and through the 20 th Centuries. Agriculture and mechanical arts curriculums became typical offerings for men at most land grant colleges established under the Morrill Act of 1862. Women admitted to institutions of higher education were often limited in their choices of study (Clarke, 1973). However, a new choice, home economics and practical arts, quickly developed during the late 1860s. In 1869, Iowa State College offered the first class in home economics. In his inaugural address, the newly appointed president of Iowa State College advocated the need for women to study in higher education (Bliss, 1953). He quickly assigned his wife to teach home economics to women college students that same year. Within the next ten years, Iowa State College established the Department of Cookery and Household Art and soon added experimental and culinary arts, house care and arrangement, planning weekly work, sewing and mending clothing, and raising children (Bliss, 1953). Thus, the first home economics curriculum was created by 1877. Other land grant colleges within the United States soon included the home economics curriculum as more women entered higher education. A major contributor to the field was Ellen Swallow Richards. A graduate of Vassar and MIT in the sciences, Richards organized conferences to scientifically improve the home, its environment, and the community. The success of these conferences in Lake Placid, New York, helped to establish the American Home Economics Association in 1908 (Gordon, 2008). The growth in home economics continued and yielded to the departmentalization and specialization of higher education in the 1930s and 1940s. Specific areas of study

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included home economics education, child and family, consumer education, clothing and textiles, foods, and housing (Cohen, 1998). During the next 30 years, 1945 -1975, all aspects of higher education expanded with more institutions, larger enrollments, diverse student populations, and more courses. Along with the expansion came the demand to meet society's needs. One curriculum need was for more specialized classes in training employees. At no other period "…did the expectations of employers and the modification in college curriculum follow each other with such rapidity" (Cohen, 1998, p. 229). Laughlin and Kean (1995) reported that the expansion of clothing and textiles during the latter half of the 20 th Century focused effort in defining the curriculum for the field. A major benchmark presentation in 1964 provided the motivation to develop and identify the foundation of clothing and textiles curriculum during the years that followed. “These faculty seminars facilitated the movement of concepts and generalizations as a structure for (theory in) textiles and clothing to the curriculum and classroom” (Laughlin & Kean, 1995, p. 186). In all colleges, occupational/vocational/career-technical curriculums expanded the number of skills, reduced the number of apprenticeships and on-the-job training, and granted more degrees that were specialized. "The curriculum was vocational because students were seen as consumers, education was considered a commodity, institutions were competing for enrollment, the public was accepting the idea of human capital formation through education, and colleges were attempting to enhance a local economy by providing skilled workers" (Cohen, 1998, p. 228). The latter part of the 20th Century continued to see an increase in the number of occupational degrees and curriculum

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changes in higher education. Curriculum additions and adjustments attempted to meet the needs of society and the workforce. The transition from home economics-based curriculums to more specialized programs of study occurred during the 1970s. Johnson and Swope (1972) surveyed curriculum in home economics higher education programs. Recommended was the need for expanding and adding more classes in the area of clothing and textiles. Horn (1984) reported conflicting curriculum viewpoints within the fashion merchandising curriculum. What was considered strength to some programs was seen as a weakness to others. Significant studies in the expansion of clothing and textile curriculum offerings facilitated growth in the fashion merchandising specialization. Rudd (1981) reported that fashion merchandising comprised the largest major emphasis area (75%) of all programs. The effectiveness of fashion merchandising programs in preparing graduates for the profession was conducted by Neal (1981) who found that employers of graduates significantly impacted curriculum. Garner and Buckley (1988) surveyed employers, graduates, and educators who developed curriculum and identified eight cluster blocks perceived as important to merchandising/marketing job performance. Identified were the following: textiles, clothing construction, fashion merchandising, social science aspects of apparel including historic costume, apparel design and selection including accessories, professional preparedness, textiles and apparel industry and economics, and support courses outside apparel.

Full document contains 119 pages
Abstract: In an ever changing global economy, higher education experiences accountability issues in educating the workforce. Graduates require the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the global workplace. For graduates to have the opportunity to attain this understanding and expertise, it is critical to identify what influences curriculum development to create a curriculum that meets workplace needs. The purpose of this study was to contribute to a better understanding of curriculum development in higher education fashion merchandising programs. More specifically what impacts the curriculum and if skill standard(s) and/or competency list(s), are used when developing program-level curriculum for higher education fashion merchandising programs. Descriptive research examined the internal and external influences and standard(s) and/or competency list(s) used in curriculum development. Electronically, an invitation to participate and the survey instrument were sent to faculty in apparel and textile programs across the United States. Data were collected from 96 apparel and textile faculty. Data revealed internal influences, more so than external influences, impacted curriculum development in higher education fashion merchandising programs. The largest percentage and extent of internal influence on curriculum development in higher education fashion merchandising programs was faculty background; program mission was also a major internal influence. The largest percentage and extent of external influence on curriculum development in higher education fashion merchandising programs was marketplace/employers. No statistically significant relationship was found between the participants' type of institution (undergraduate and graduate granting) and internal and external influences. However, more research is called for to examine the specific internal influence of program mission and the external influence of marketplace/employers. Current curriculum influences, skill standard(s) and/or competency list(s) used, and type of institution were examined in this research study. The study proposes that the higher education fashion merchandising curriculum is influenced, in varying degrees, by internal and external influences and that skill standard(s) and/or competency list(s) from many sources are used in curriculum development. Undergraduate or graduate institutions were not differentially influenced by internal or external factors.