Apparel, merchandising, and design outcomes

Undergraduate program outcomes

Core competencies

  • Understand the organization and structure of the global textile/apparel complex.
  • Develop textile/apparel products for specific target markets to meet expectations for cost and quality (materials, performance, and aesthetics).
  • Demonstrate effective leadership, teamwork, and communication skills.
  • Plan, develop, and present merchandise lines for identified market segments.
  • Understand the basic decision-making, production, and creative processes involved in the conversion of materials to finished textile/apparel products.
  • Understand the manner in which historic, cultural, economic, and environmental factors impact fashion.
  • Evaluate the characteristics and performance of materials in textile/apparel products.
  • Use technology and quantitative, analytical, and creative concepts in problem.

Design competencies

  • Interpret aesthetic, historic, and trend information from a variety of sources to create innovative and artistic textile and apparel products.
  • Apply the creative design process and evaluate outcomes.
  • Represent images of fabrics and apparel in an artistic and informative manner using a variety of techniques, computer technology, and media.
  • Apply technical knowledge and skills in pattern making, fit assessment, materials selection, and assembly processes to meet customer demand.
  • Communicate creative and design work to professionals and consumers.

Production competencies

  • Analyze factors affecting human resource management issues, production planning, scheduling, and inventory control relative to business goals and professional development.
  • Develop and analyze production methods appropriate to products, quality, cost, and equipment.
  • Develop and analyze quality and engineering specifications and production standards for products and processes.
  • Apply technology and work measurement to increase productivity, decrease costs, and shorten delivery time.

Merchandising competencies

  • Assess market and consumer factors that influence apparel and textile merchandising and marketing decisions.
  • Analyze merchandise assortments and line dimensions from a marketing perspective.
  • Interpret and apply mathematical concepts and financial statements related to merchandise planning, control, and distribution.
  • Demonstrate understanding of relationship management strategies with vendors, customers, employees, and other industry stakeholders.
  • Recognize the types, functions, and significance of store and non-store retailing in contemporary global markets.

Graduate outcomes assessment

At the end of the graduate program, M.S. and Ph.D. students will be able to do the following:

Outcome Measure
Develop scholarship Acceptance of thesis/dissertation/integrative paper by POS committee
Communicate and/or disseminate scholarship Acceptance of thesis/dissertation/integrative paper by POS committee; Number of student presentations to and papers for scholarly, professional, and/or lay audiences
Secure employment as appropriate for personal/professional goals Successful acquisition of appropriate positions after graduation

In addition, Ph.D. students will be able to:

Outcome Measure
Disseminate peer-reviewed scholarship Number of peer-reviewed presentations and papers accepted
Successfully implement teaching strategies Successfully complete TC 570, Teaching Practicum
Locate and pursue sources of funding Submission of or assistance in development of a funding proposal to funding sources; may also be met by a class or workshop/seminar

Program assessment

Program learning goal

The apparel, merchandising, and design faculty set our learning goal as improvement of student communication skills, particularly verbal and interpersonal and with professional and non-academic audiences. All courses in our program already incorporate communication learning activities; however, we have assessed that our program needs to work on further development of student communication skills.

Description of program activities

During the academic year (fall and spring semesters) a number of communication activities were incorporated into our courses:

TC 165, Appearance in Society. To enhance peer-oriented discussion of assigned readings, students were required to enter discussion of readings on the WebCT Discussion Board. Techniques for showing respect for diversity of ideas were discussed in class and in a handout.

TC 305, Quality Assurance for Textile and Apparel Products. Teamwork experience was developed in which students work in groups of four or five to write a paper reporting product standards and specifications they developed for a specific target market. The teams then plan and use laboratory procedures to evaluate an existing product and write a report of that quality assurance audit.

TC 362, Cultural Perspectives in Clothing and Textiles. Students write about three case studies that introduce them to dress, culture, and business practices in three cultures. The papers require that students compare and contrast their own experiences and behaviors with those in other cultures. The papers help students to develop perspectives about life outside the U.S.

TC 375, Merchandising. Teamwork experience involved students in discussion and problem solving to examine case study scenarios. The teams develop a written response and present their ideas to class, from which they receive feedback about their ideas. Teams are then reformed to conduct larger merchandise forecasting and company review and analysis projects.

TC 377, Merchandise Presentation. Students were required to develop a portfolio of the visual presentation projects they had completed for the class. The assignment increased student involvement in portfolio development and presentation.

TC 495, Advanced Apparel Design. Teamwork experience was developed in which students study fashion trends and develop designs for a target market. In addition, students must participate in class critiques (constructive) of each others’ work. A team of industry professionals also evaluates the students’ product lines through judging them for the fashion show competition. This industry feedback to the students about their work, the teamwork project, and the class critique gives the students experiences similar to a professional industry environment in which employees must make design and production decisions and incorporate critique from colleagues into their work.

During our industry board (TAAB–Textile and Apparel Advisory Board) meeting in April, we discussed with the board how we might increase mentoring of our students by industry professionals. In essence, we want to increase the number the types of opportunities have to interact with industry professionals. The board members suggested a variety of ideas, such as opportunities for job shadowing, use of the new Iowa Retail Federation training center for students to be involved in skill training of retail business personnel, and participant observation experiences at the Iowa Fashion Market. The board members also advised students about portfolio development in one of our classes. We discussed whether we might call on the board to give our students feedback about their work in advanced classes.

Assessment of program/course activities

All new activities have added valuable experiences to our classes to increase teamwork, portfolio development, technical writing, and peer communication experiences. The mentoring discussion with our industry board has given us ideas for development of new learning activities.

Next steps: We will attempt to incorporate several of the industry board suggestions into our classes and as independent study options over the next two years. We will attempt to make greater use of our advisory board for assessment of student projects and for presentations to students of advice about professional portfolios and job application skills. We are working toward greater involvement of all our students in portfolio development to prepare them for the job application process. In the future we would like to develop more learning experiences in which students develop conflict management communication skills for work environments.

Measurement of the outcomes

Undergraduate curriculum

  • Above average performance (B/B- or better) in specific classes and/or on specific assignments, projects, or exams in specific classes
  • Successful completion of a professional internship
  • Evaluation of interns by employers
  • Evaluation of graduates by employers
  • Successful acquisition of appropriate positions after graduation
  • For design students: pass rating for portfolio as evaluated by design faculty and/or outside reviewers; acceptance of the senior line into a juried venue

Graduate curriculum

  • Acceptance of thesis/dissertation/integrative paper by POS committee
  • Number of student presentations to and papers for scholarly, professional, and/or lay audiences
  • Successful acquisition of appropriate positions after graduation
  • Number of peer-reviewed presentations and papers accepted
  • Successfully complete TC 570 Teaching Practicum
  • Submission of or assistance in development of a funding proposal to funding sources; may also be met by a class or workshop/seminar

Analysis of assessment measures

Undergraduate curriculum

Current assessments meet or exceed expectations with the exception of TC 362 (related to the global textile and apparel complex and leadership/teamwork/communication skills). Faculty will examine the exception to determine the reasons for its failure to meet stated criteria. Additional information gathered from alumni, employers, and the Textiles and Apparel Advisory Board have helped faculty identify areas that should be enhanced in the curriculum: communicating design criteria, working in teams, understanding the intricacies of the textile and apparel industry, and keeping current with technology. Revised assignments and class projects will help address those issues as will the re-evaluation of the undergraduate curriculum. In addition, the assessment form filled out by employers to assess interns’ performance has been revised to include a section on teamwork skills.

Graduate curriculum

Current assessments meet or exceed expectations. Information gathered from students, alumni, and employers have identified professional writing including grant writing as an area that could be enhanced.

Feedback process

Program changes

Because of changes in the textile and apparel industry, the area of design has been split into creative and technical design. The requirements for creative design students have expanded to include more experience with industry-specific software and other technology and more experience in pattern drafting and draping. Technical design students will be required to take technical design and quality assurance courses. Merchandising courses have expanded to include an electronic commerce course. In addition, students in all program areas are encouraged to study abroad.