Determination of Curriculum Content and Requirements for a Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program in Industrial Technology
Morehead State University
Morehead State University
Bowling Green State University
In recent years, technological developments in industries have created the technical-management profession--management occupations with a decidedly technical nature. To meet the needs of industry for technically competent personnel who understand and can manage technology, many industrial technology (IT) programs have been established and developed. These industrial technology programs demand qualified faculty members and administrators. Despite the enrollment of a significant number of undergraduate and graduate students in various industrial technology programs (Miller, 1991), only a few institutions in the United States offer a doctoral degree in industrial technology.
The primary purpose for Ph.D. programs in various disciplines is to prepare professionals with the research skills required for the production and transmission of new knowledge (Mayhew, 1970; National Board on Graduate Education, 1972). Consistent with these objectives, a Ph.D. program in industrial technology may contribute to the development of the profession by preparing individuals with research, teaching, and industrial skills. To look forward and address the future needs of industrial technology programs, this study sought to obtain experts' consensus on the need for and the components of a doctor of philosophy degree in industrial technology.
To maintain their economic position among other industrialized nations, U.S. firms must increase not only their productivity, but also the quality of their products (Waetjen, 1987). This may not be accomplished unless U.S. workers acquire adequate knowledge and skills required by manufacturing enterprises of the third industrial revolution, a revolution of which high-technology organizations are the key feature (National Center on Education and the Economy, 1990). In fact, the shortage of a technologically competent workforce hinders American industry's use of new technologies (Beach, 1991).
Increasing concern about U.S. products reflects the urgent need for competent managers. Drucker (1992) argued that it is up to managers to determine what information they will need in order to identify (a) what they are currently doing, (b) what they should be doing, and (c) how to get from (a) to (b). To make informed and intelligent decisions, industrial managers must understand technology and be able to analyze available technological information. Because business is increasingly driven by technology, managers have to understand the dynamics of technology and its impact on the individual, society, and the economy (Drucker, 1981). Yet, Drucker (1981) complained that "business and businessmen have done amazingly little to understand technology, and even less to manage it" (p. 37).
To help the U.S. economy remain competitive, colleges and universities are expected to provide a workforce equipped with advanced technical skills and the managerial knowledge required to function effectively in technology-intensive corporations (Morrison, McGuire, & Clarke, 1988). To better meet the needs of these technology-intensive corporations, technology programs have gone through a number of revisions in order to prepare management-oriented technical professionals (Rudisill, 1987).
As the discipline of industrial technology grows and the need for graduate education increases, the need for qualified faculty also increases. For an industrial technology faculty to help students develop their professional expertise and research skills, the minimum qualification has become a doctoral degree with a background in research. Although industrial technology faculty should be focused on the discipline of industrial technology, relatively few faculty have a doctoral degree in that discipline (Beach, 1991; Brown, 1983; Davis, 1987). Brown (1983) reported that of "[t]he 75 academic units reported 775 individual faculty members for the survey Only 160, or 20.65 percent, were primarily prepared for industrial technology" (p. 269). Brown further suggested that leaders in the discipline of industrial technology will soon have to consider the following issues:
- Those industrial arts instructors who made the transition from industrial arts to industrial technology will soon retire.
- Instructors brought in from industry will not necessarily have academic characteristics.
- Graduates of industrial technology programs--especially those who excelled in their academic studies--should be a source of instructors sometime in the not too distant future.
- If such would be the case, graduate programs in industrial technology would need to be created to meet the specific needs of these individuals (p. 287).
The scarcity of research data contributes to a lack of continuity of purpose among industrial technology faculty members whose backgrounds are from other disciplines. Since an important objective of a Ph.D. program is to facilitate a communication of purpose between scholars and practitioners in a discipline (Lopez, 1961), establishment of a doctoral program in industrial technology could enhance IT faculty members' understanding of the purpose of these programs and help reduce or eliminate confusion among students and employers. By conducting technical research and developing intellectual competencies, graduates of IT doctoral programs may contribute to the development of the discipline of industrial technology (Fecik, 1987; White, 1984). Because technical research is an essential ingredient of industrial competitiveness (Cheng, Elckhoff, Gedeon, & Sinn, 1986), a doctor of philosophy degree program in industrial technology may be an appropriate vehicle for the preparation of not only industrial technology educators but also industrial technology leaders (Kemper, 1985).
Since only a few programs offer a doctoral degree with an industrial technology concentration (National Association of Industrial Technology, 1993), and a considerable number of faculty do not have an IT doctoral degree (Brown, 1983), the establishment of a doctor of philosophy degree program in industrial technology is not only vital to the preparation of technical-management faculty but also paramount to the development of industrial technology as a discipline.
If the curriculum of a doctor of philosophy degree program is carefully designed to reflect the purpose of industrial technology, doctoral graduates may be better prepared to educate technical-management personnel for industry and contribute to the development of the discipline of industrial technology through their technical and scholarly research. Based on these considerations, a doctor of philosophy degree program in industrial technology may be needed to prepare faculty, administrators, and leaders for the discipline of industrial technology.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to determine whether there is a need for, to specify the requirements of, and to identify curriculum content for a doctor of philosophy program in industrial technology. To conduct the study, a Delphi consensus building technique was employed. The following research questions were addressed in this study:
- Is there a need for establishing a doctor of philosophy degree program in industrial technology?
- What should the requirements be for a doctor of philosophy degree in industrial technology?
- What content should be included in the curriculum of a doctor of philosophy degree in industrial technology?
Because limited research data were available regarding a doctor of philosophy degree program in industrial technology, a group decision-making technique was required to obtain consensus among industrial technology academic experts. The Delphi forecasting method has been successfully employed for the systematic collection of informed judgments from a panel of experts on specific questions or issues (Dalkey, Rourke, Lewis, & Snyder, 1972; Delbecq, Van de Ven, & Gustafson, 1975; Helmer, 1983; Strauss & Zeigler, 1975). The research design for this study utilized a three round Delphi technique to collect the data and achieve consensus from a panel of industrial technology academic experts.
Selection of the Delphi Panel
In order to utilize a Delphi method for the identification of curriculum content and requirements for a doctor of philosophy degree program in industrial technology, an expert panel was selected. To obtain valid and reliable results from the Delphi method, a panel must be selected from among the stakeholders, experts, and facilitators in the field under study (Polanin, 1990; Scheele, 1975). Stakeholders are those who are or will be directly affected, experts are those who have relevant experience, and facilitators are those who have skills in clarifying, organizing, and synthesizing the problem (Scheele, 1975).
To select panelists who are well-known, knowledgeable in, and committed to the development of industrial technology programs, an advisory panel from the discipline of industrial technology nominated 15 experts for the panel. The advisory panel was comprised of seven industrial technology educators, including the Executive Director of the National Association of Industrial Technology (NAIT), Executive Director of Epsilon Pi Tau and Dean Emeritus of a college of technology, a dean of a college of technology, an associate dean of a college of technology, two industrial technology department chairpersons, and three industrial technology graduate faculty. After prospective panelists were contacted to describe the Delphi process and to determine their interest in becoming panel members, 13 experts consented to participate in the study. The expert panel was comprised of the following individuals: Executive Director of NAIT, four deans of colleges/schools of technology, four industrial technology department chairpersons, and four industrial technology professors. The panelists for this study were selected by their peers as experts for their significant contributions to the discipline of industrial technology through their many years of teaching, administrative, research, program design, and leadership responsibilities.
Based on the review of literature and considering the curricular models of doctoral programs available in industrial technology (Beach, 1991; White, 1983; Wright, 1986), an initial questionnaire was developed. After making revisions as recommended by the advisory panel, the Delphi process was administered by mailing the first-round questionnaire to the expert panel. The Delphi process included three successive rounds.
Round one. The first-round questionnaire contained two parts: Part 1 included 16 statements of content that could be included in the curriculum of a doctor of philosophy degree in industrial technology. Part 2 contained two general statements regarding the need and requirements for a doctor of philosophy degree program in industrial technology. The experts were asked to rate each statement on a five point Likert-type rating scale in terms of their importance to a doctor of philosophy degree program in industrial technology.
In the first round, experts were asked to add any additional items that they thought were important and should be included in the curriculum of a doctor of philosophy degree program in industrial technology. Further, the panelists were encouraged to elaborate on their ratings of each item.
After all 13 experts returned the first-round questionnaire, the comments were summarized and the statements of content added by the panel were edited. In the first round, the expert panel generated 40 new statements of content and six general statements. Six items were dropped because they were similar in meaning and content, so the total number of items of content added by the expert panel was reduced to 34. As a result, a total of eight general statements and 50 statements of content were included in the study.
A standard univariate procedure was used to yield the mean, median, interquartile range, and modal rating of each statement. The interquartile range was used as a measure of dispersion for processing the data for this study. In addition, the frequency distribution of the responses was calculated.
Round two. Round two of the study provided the expert panel with 50 statements of content and eight general statements. The second-round questionnaire included the experts' original rating and the median and modal rating of the expert panel for each preliminary statement of the first round. Each panelist was provided with other experts' comments that had been obtained in the first round. The second-round questionnaire also included the 34 new statements of content and the six general statements added by the panel during the first round. To achieve consensus in the second round, the experts were directed to review the panel's median and modal rating, their previous comments, and their own original rating for each statement in order to reconsider their previous rating. The expert panel was then asked to rate the statements added after the first round in terms of their importance for inclusion in the curriculum of a doctor of philosophy degree program in industrial technology. The responses were then compiled, and the interquartile range of each item was again obtained. In the second round, the expert panel arrived at consensus on 39 statements of content and on four general statements. Consensus was not achieved on 11 statements of content and on four general statements in the second round. To achieve convergence of opinion among the expert panel, the third round of the Delphi study was conducted.
Round three. The third round of the study provided the expert panel with items on which the panel had not reached consensus during the second round. In the third round, the panelists were directed to review their rating, the expert panel's rating, and the expert panel's comments for each statement. The experts were then asked to reconsider their previous rating and mark their new rating of the statements regarding their importance to the curriculum for a doctor of philosophy degree in industrial technology.
In addition, the third round included a few statements of content added by the expert panel in round one that appeared to be similar in meaning and content. In the third round--to provide a majority opinion on similar statements--the experts were asked to review those statements and decide whether any statement should remain as it is, be merged with another statement, or be eliminated.
Upon the completion of the third round, all panelists agreed that there is a need for establishing Ph.D. programs in industrial technology. Also, the expert panel arrived at consensus on seven items of requirements and 42 statements of content. The data were statistically analyzed by calculating a median consensus rating for each item. The seven items of requirements and 42 statements of content were rank ordered in terms of their median ratings in order to determine their importance regarding a Ph.D. program in industrial technology.
The following are the seven requirements for a doctor of philosophy degree in industrial technology, listed in order of importance; also included are the median rating (M) for each item:Very important (M = 5)
Important (M = 4)
- To earn a doctor of philosophy degree in industrial technology, a doctoral student is required to complete a minimum of 60 semester hours course work beyond the master's degree.
Moderately important (M = 3)
- The make up of the doctoral advisory committee should include two members from outside of the industrial technology department but in a closely related field.
- To obtain a doctor of philosophy degree in industrial technology, doctoral students should complete at least a 9-semester hour dissertation.
- A technical concentration core should be a required component of a doctor of philosophy degree in industrial technology.
- To earn a doctor of philosophy degree in industrial technology, doctoral students should be required to complete a 6-semester hour internship or have an equivalent industrial experience in an industrial site or in a research and development center.
- Industrial experience should be required for earning a doctor of philosophy degree in industrial technology.
- Industrial technology doctoral students should be required to publish or prepare at least one article that is accepted by a professional journal prior to graduation.
Based on the analysis of the Delphi results regarding the requirements for earning a doctor of philosophy degree in industrial technology, the following specific characteristics were noted: (1) iIdustrial technology doctoral students should complete a minimum of 60 semester hours course work, including a dissertation, beyond the master's degree; (2) a technical concentration core and industrial experience should become important components of a doctor of philosophy degree program in industrial technology; and (3) the panel's emphasis on the need for diversity of opinions among doctoral committee members reflects the multidisciplinary nature of the program. The panel's consensus on research, technical core, and industrial experience as important requirements for earning a doctoral degree in industrial technology seems to be consistent with the primary purpose of the program: the preparation of faculty and administrators capable of educating technical-management personnel.
Based on their median ratings, the statements of content were grouped into four categories: Two statements with a median rating of 5 were considered as very important. Twenty-seven statements with a median rating of 4 were identified as important. Ten items with a median rating of 3 were considered as moderately important, and three statements with a median rating of 2 were considered as unimportant content. The following are the 42 statements of content for a doctor of philosophy degree in industrial technology, listed in order of importance; also included is the median rating for each statement:Very important (M = 5)
Important (M = 4)
- Study, examine, and apply methods and techniques to prepare grant proposals and research proposals; conduct technical research; publish scholarly papers; acquire writing, research, and oral presentation skills. The focus is on technical research concerning the industrial technology discipline.
- Acquire real-life learning experience through an internship practice that requires a doctoral student to study and work in an industrial/business site or in an industrial research and development center.
Moderately important (M = 3)
- Study, examine, and practice statistical techniques and data analysis procedures. Emphasis is on methods of organizing and communicating the findings of research related to quality, reliability, and process control applications.
- Study, understand, and examine the field of technology. The emphasis is on technological developments and technology transfer.
- Study the application of computer integrated systems in industry with an emphasis on using application software, documentation, and database management.
- Conduct empirical research as a doctoral dissertation. The emphasis is on applied, industry- related research.
- Study, examine, and practice methods and techniques of increasing productivity, reliability, and quality of products. The emphasis is on advanced measurement systems such as statistical process control, Total Quality Management, Taguchi method, and short run.
- Study, examine, and practice productivity analysis through the use of advanced productivity measurement techniques, work methods design, and performance sampling analysis in order to improve the productivity and efficiency of industrial/business corporations.
- Study and examine the impact of technology globally on industrial organizations, society, and environment with emphasis on "control" of technology. The focus on issues such as pollution and waste control.
- Study, examine, and apply a conceptual understanding of technology and broad technical systems to solving industrial, technical, and technological problems.
- Study, examine, and practice technical research. This includes advanced resources and systems for facilitating and managing technical research in organizations and for individuals. The emphasis is on the application of scientific principles and analytical tools used to address technical problems and projects.
- Study and analyze technical aspects of automation and its impact on the quality and productivity of industrial organizations.
- Study the theoretical models concerning organizational structures and behavioral processes. The emphasis is on the latest advanced organizational theories and managerial models, including team leadership and Total Quality Management.
- Conduct a critical investigation and analysis of problems faced by industries. The emphasis is on technology change, changing skills required of the workforce, and training and retraining of industrial workers.
- Study operations research and project management methods through simulation.
- Study and examine how to bring technical change and innovations forward as part of industrial technology organizations. The emphasis is on management techniques that are used create new culture in industry and to implement technological/technical change at various levels.
- Study and develop an area of specialization including quality assurance, TQM, CAM, CIM, energy systems, construction management, advance material processing and science, electronics, computer aided design, and industrial technical management.
- Study and examine globalization of markets and production. Focus on the impact of the global economy on business and industry with an emphasis on the international marketplace and global competitiveness.
- Study advanced computer integration relating to movement of information within industrial organizations. The emphasis is on how to use project documentation from various data access points to solve technical problems.
- Study, understand, and analyze technology assessment and technological forecasting.
- Develop an appreciation for the worth of all employees in an industrial organization and develop methods of cooperative problem solving.
- Study simulation methods which can be used to examine production and operational problems.
- Study labor law and liability implications for corporate management problems.
- Study, practice, and apply ethical behavior in the workplace.
- Study planning, designing, justifying, developing functional specification and implementation strategies for computer integration.
- Study the implications of change in the workplace and how to plan for the impact on capital, methods, employment patterns, and training.
- Study international manufacturing systems as related to American manufacturing systems.
- Study curricular issues in industrial technology, with an emphasis on a results-oriented type of preparation using the most current technology and methods.
- Build a teaching specialty or concentration in a technical and/or a professional area.
Unimportant content (M = 2)
- Synthesize and apply the knowledge of related subjects such as physics, technical communication, computer science, and material science to solve technological problems.
- Study international economic and political systems as they impact American manufacturing.
- Examine methods and procedures for maximizing the creative potential of individuals and groups.
- Study one advanced course in a related discipline outside industrial technology, such as production management, operations research, or industrial engineering.
- Study and practice advanced training systems design, implementation, and evaluation. Focus on stand-alone, self-paced, computer-integrated systems to support equipment and systems.
- Study and practice finite element analysis systems integrated into computer aided engineering functions. This would include using CAD geometry transported into various software and hardware configurations for advanced components, materials, and structural analyses.
- Study techniques and systems for simulations and concurrent engineering methods. This includes product/component characterization in CAD and creating 3-D physical models in various systems.
- Study and practice accounting, finance, economics, and budgeting.
- Study and practice reverse engineering systems, with an emphasis on product characterization and CAD data translation needed to download to CAM applications.
- Study the psychological and sociological behavior of people.
- Study applications engineering systems. This includes design, implementation, and testing of systems for applications engineering in organizations. The focus is on process control and analysis in production--actually designing from concept through model and implementation for analysis and testing.
- Study and examine technical design system analysis. Focus on the study of technical design systems with emphasis on quantitative analysis tools for projects, structures, and devices.
- Study problems associated with administration in higher education.
Based on the analysis of the Delphi results regarding the content for a Ph.D. program in industrial technology, the following observations were made: The two very important statements focus on research and industrial experience. Of the 27 important statements of content, three items focus on research skills; five items reflect technology content; seven statements stress technical content; ten items focus on management; and two statements reflect education and curriculum content. The ten moderately important statements focus on technical, technological, management, education, and training content.
On the whole, the content identified by the expert panel seems to represent a Ph.D. program with a technical-management orientation. Such a program could provide IT doctoral students with technical competencies, research skills, management knowledge, and industrial experience--qualifications required of industrial technology educators.
The expert panel arrived at consensus on a 60 semester hour doctor of philosophy degree program, including a nine semester hour dissertation. Since students' time and institutions' resources are limited, it might not be possible to deliver all content identified in this study in a doctor of philosophy degree program. Therefore, the priorities placed by the expert panel on items of content and requirements could help curriculum developers to select the most relevant content for the program.
Based on the information provided by the Delphi panel, a program in industrial technology that leads to a Ph.D. could include the following components.
The research component could include general courses in research methods as well as specialized courses in statistical process control, data analysis, and research and development in industrial technology. The dissertation topics for a Ph.D. in industrial technology might focus on industry-related technical research.
The technology component could include courses in technology development, technology impact, and technology systems. These technology courses would focus on technological, societal, environmental, and global issues such as international trade, technology transfer, pollution, and waste control.
The management component could include courses in organizational structure and leadership theories, TQM, production management and operations research, and international business administration.
Technical Concentration Component
The technical concentration component could include courses in computer integrated systems, industrial quality testing, and industrial productivity analysis. These technical courses would emphasize the breadth of the field and update the technical skills of doctoral students.
The elective component could include courses in construction management, materials processing, industrial design, curriculum issues in industrial technology, implementing training systems, and instructional methods. These elective courses would enable students to develop an advanced area of specialization. The internship would provide students with on site technical-management experience in an industrial organization or a research and development center.
The findings and results of the study supported the following conclusions: Despite the current climate in higher education in which downsizing, merging, and elimination of programs seems to be the norm, there appears to be a need for establishing Ph.D. programs in industrial technology. Since the establishment or elimination of educational programs depends on their usefulness, programs that remain outdated will eventually be eliminated. Because the need for advanced technical-management personnel is increasing, the establishment and development of Ph.D. programs in industrial technology will enable institutions to prepare qualified faculty members and technically competent industrial leaders.
Zargari is Assistant Professor, Department of Industrial Education and Technology, Morehead State University, Kentucky
Campbell is Professor, Department of Higher Education and Student Affairs, College of Education and Allied Professions, Bowling Green State University
Savage is Associate Dean and Director of Graduate Studies, College of Technology, Bowling Green State University, Ohio.
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