Examining the preparedness of interior design students in Kuwait from a global design firm perspective
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The interior design (ID) profession has been evolving and changing over time. Through decades, the literature has proven that design employers have different competencies, attributes, and characteristics expected from entry-level interior designers (Baker & Sondhi, 1989; Douthitt & Hasell, 1985; Hernecheck, Rettig, & Sherman, 1983; Scarton, 2012) due to the advancement of technology and improving body of knowledge in the profession. Not only does the design profession change and evolve over time, but so does the interior design accreditation guidelines produced by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. Thus, there is an increasing need to examine interior design students’ knowledge and skills to make sure they meet the expected competencies sought by the labor market. Due to lack of an interior design accreditation body in Kuwait, the design competencies expected from entry-level designers have not been investigated. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether interior design students in Kuwait possess compliant knowledge and skill areas sought by global design firms. This study will have a significant impact on helping the interior design faculty in Kuwait identify the deficiencies existing in knowledge and skills of their students in the context of competencies sought by global design firms. A non-experimental, descriptive, quantitative approachs was adopted for this study, involving a one-shot measurement of knowledge and skill levels. The study used the knowledge levels of students graduating from Texas Tech University (TTU)in the United States of America (USA) to serve as the baseline for comparison of ID students studying at the College f Basic Education (CBE) in Kuwait . The methodology of this research consists of two areas: measuring students’ knowledge and examining student’s design skills. A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to senior ID students at CBE and TTU. The knowledge areas that were used in the survey were adapted from the Interior Design Fundamental Exam (IDFX) section in the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam. In order to examine design students’ skills, senior design projects were collected and evaluated by six jurors (n= 6) who determined whether ID students at CBE are graduating with the skills level expected from entry-level interior designers in the USA. An online survey, using Survey Qualtrics, was used to collect the needed information. Students’ design projects were attached to the project evaluation sheet, and participants (is it participants or practitioners?) were asked to evaluate them based on specific design guidelines adopted from Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) standards. The findings of the study illustrated that ID students at CBE possessed deficiencies in ten design skills that were not compliant with what is expected from entry-level interior designers. Nevertheless, they met the average expected skill level in one design area, which was designing an appropriate spatial layout. Four design skill areas were not evaluated since they were not demonstrated in the selected design projects. The findings of this study indicated that there are nine design knowledge areas in which ID students at CBE in Kuwait possess deficiencies. Nevertheless, they showed acceptable knowledge levels in the three design knowledge domains.
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