Assessment of the status of model building codes in interior design curricula
Dunham, Betsy D.
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Cases have been publicized in which interiors not in compliance with building code requirements have been responsible for endangering the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Consequently, interior designers must possess technical skills, including knowledge of the non-structural provisions of model building codes, as well as artistic sensibility. The purposes of this study were to assess the current status of model building codes in Foundation of Interior Design Education Research (FIDER) accredited professional level program curricula, to determine if differences exist among faculty, employers, and entry level designers regarding the importance of model building codes in the design curricula, and to make recommendations for developing curricula associated with model building codes. Exploratory descriptive research was employed in this study. Upon completion of a pilot study, a survey was mailed to the directors of the 104 FIDER accredited professional level programs in the United States, practitioners comprised of the internship employers of six of the FIDER accredited professional level programs in Texas, and the entry level designers hired by these employers. The samples selected for this study were not random; therefore, the results may not be generalizable to the entire population. The response rates were 39% for the faculty and 21% for the employers. Although a response rate was impossible to calculate for entry level designers, 23 surveys were received. Cronbach's alpha was utilized to compute reliability on the researcher designed surveys. The results of this test were an alpha of .90 for faculty, .88 for employers, and .91 for entry level respondents. Means, ranks, standard deviations, frequencies, percentages, and Chi-square analysis were used to analyze data collected. Additionally, nonparametric measures, the one-way ANOVA by ranked data and the Student-Newman-Keuls test, were utilized to indicate differences between groups. Significant differences among the three sample groups were noted for knowledge categories, technical knowledge content units, and building code topics. According to FIDER ratings, the level of expertise, relative to building codes, at which students have performed, was significantly higher than the level of expertise at which employers indicate entry level designers have performed. Additionally, respondents' mean scores indicated that the content unit of laws, codes, and standards was first or second in importance among content units. Implications, derived from these results, suggest that interior design curricula should better address laws and codes to enhance the performance of entry level designers in the marketplace.
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