Identifying and Evaluating the Required Professional Competencies for Bachelor Grade Graduates in Handicrafts

Document Type : Original/Research/Regular Article


1 Ph.D. Candidate in Art Research, Art University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran.

2 Assistant professor, Art University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran.

3 Professor, Department of Educational Sciences, University of Isfahan, Iran.


The importance of professional competencies as a developer in higher education continuous review and evaluation according to the existing conditions and needs of individuals. Lack of attention to this issue in the higher education system of Iran handicrafts and also the application of a fixed curriculum with the same approach since 1987, caused the present study to address this issue with the aim of identifying the professional competencies required by graduates of handicrafts. The research questions are also as followed: What are the professional competencies required for the bachelor course in handicrafts from the point of view of experts? What is the validity and priority of the identified competencies from the experts’ point of view?
Addressing the educational system, expressing the domains and boundaries of knowledge and skills, as well as identifying competencies determine the general boundaries, perspective and educational approach of each discipline. It can be inferred that a large part of the development of Iran handicrafts is the responsibility of graduates of this field in higher education. Therefore, it is necessary to review and evaluate a set of professional competencies required by graduates of this field in order to properly cultivate it and present it as a solution in the development of handicrafts.
When competencies are applied in a specialty and professional context, conditions arise that distinguish competencies from other disciplines. In other words, quality and competence in each profession has its own definition that distinguishes a profession from another and shapes its essence and nature. This characteristic, which gives rise to specific knowledge, skills and attitudes in a particular ground, field, job and organization, can be interpreted as professional competence.
The present study is applied in terms of developmental aim and was carried out by exploratory mixed method. In this type of research, qualitative data is more important and in the data collection sequence, first qualitative data and then quantitative data are collected. For this purpose, in the first step of the research, using the qualitative method of interviews and their analysis by the method of content analysis, the required professional competencies were identified; then, using the Delphi method and quantitative binomial tests and the mean of the answers, as well as using the tools of a researcher-made questionnaire, validation and prioritization of competencies were performed. Data were collected through semi-structured individual interviews and virtual offline and online, which was the most important tool used in the interview form. The statistical population of the research consists of members of the faculty of handicrafts of Iranian universities. Theoretical sampling method was used to select the participants, the two main features of which are purposefulness and theoretical saturation. The sampling and interviewing process continued until theoretical saturation of the data was achieved. Thus, after interviewing 24 experts, data saturation was obtained and sampling and interviewing were stopped.
Text content analysis method was used to analyze the interviews. After implementing the interviews in MAXQDA software and re-adapting them to the interview text, the analysis operation began. In performing the content analysis of the text, in order to access the themes and categories, it is necessary to use a meaningful and encryptable unit. In the present study, the “theme” recording unit was considered. Selecting the appropriate sections of the interview sentences, considering the common theme between them, led to the extraction of the initial themes of the research. The initial themes were then placed in a conceptual network of common meanings, ideas, and sentences, and sub-themes (competency components) were derived from them. The main themes (competency dimensions), which are the most abstract part of the content analysis, were expressed in a few words. The selected words in this section are comprehensive in that they express all the current conceptual dimensions in the sub-themes. Then, in order to validate and prioritize the identified competencies, Delphi method was used. The researcher-made questionnaire was based on the main topics of the research, with a five-point Likert scale. Twenty scientific experts (interviewees) answered the questions and agreed with each of the competency dimensions on a scale from very high to very low. In order to validate the binomial test and to prioritize the indicators, the mean of the answers was used. It should be noted that the questionnaire related to accreditation and prioritization has content validity due to the fact that it has been completed by experts. On the other hand, in preparing and constructing the questionnaire, the designer is not able to provide a specific orientation and all the criteria and components are evaluated and therefore there is no need to measure reliability.
The research findings, in other words, the professional competencies of handicraft graduates was obtained in three areas of knowledge, skills and attitude. In general, most of the theories that were proposed, consider these three as important areas of competency, and it is from the combination of these cases that competencies become operational. In the field of knowledge, competencies such as “environmental knowledge and concepts of sustainable development”, “understanding the current social and cultural conditions”, “improving product quality and branding”, “linking theoretical and practical knowledge”, “aesthetics”, “safety and professional health” were obtained from experts’ views; in the field of skills: “communication skills”, “communication with the market and product sales”, “customer orientation”, “entrepreneurship and teamwork”, “presentation and display of works”, “knowledge of digital technologies”, “professional abilities” were obtained from experts views; and in the field of attitude: “Belief in the cultural development of the country”, “promotion of professional life” were obtained from the experts’ views. In continue, the result of the binomial test was significant for all dimensions of competencies (p <0.05) and all the indicators were approved and according to the mean of the answers, their priority was determined. It can be inferred that what has been achieved in this research has a good generality in relation to various fields of handicrafts in line with the development of education in this field. Paying attention to the promotion of handicrafts competencies in the fields of knowledge, skills and attitudes, various aspects of which were explained in this research, can lead to appropriate achievements. This modification will be effective in the development and expansion of specialized and interdisciplinary knowledge of handicrafts, promotion of technical and essential skills, change of attitudes and professional values, promotion of the position of learned knowledge in society and in other words in eliminating many professional needs of the graduates of this field and ultimately the growth of the country’s handicrafts. Accordingly, it is suggested that the acquired competencies for their operational application be studied in more detail. In other words, it is necessary to study the practical aspects of each of these indicators from the perspective of curriculum components (purpose, content, teaching methods, evaluation) and to be considered in the curriculum of this field. In general, after the research that is done on the competencies, it is necessary to pay attention to its additional dimensions and examine its specialized and operational areas in the curriculum of the field in detail.


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