URC

Home Economics as a Means for Equipping Individuals for International Service

Danielle Devore
The Master’s College


Abstract

As individuals prepare for life and service abroad, the practical specializations of the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Science field have often been neglected. The purpose of this study was to determine the usefulness and practicality of the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Science discipline as a means for better equipping individuals for international service. The survey instrument was composed of 8 questions based on the Likert scale that requested additional demographic information and was distributed through e-mail to selected female missionaries representative of 40 different countries. The data demonstrated that the respondents felt some areas addressed in the survey instrument to be beneficial while remaining neutral on others. Although only two responses met the level of significance, many of the results still suggested favorable responses. The conclusions of this research suggest that there may be a usefulness for certain aspects of the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Science discipline in equipping of individuals for international service.

Introduction

It seems reasonable to incorporate Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences into the preparation of mission workers. However, research suggests that this potential has remained unexplored. Edwards recognized this need when he said, “It is now abundantly clear that programs for economic growth and population education must be accompanied by assistance with problems related to family life—nutrition, child care, housing, and management of resources—if indeed quality of family life in developing nations is to be substantially enhanced” (Edwards, 1977, p. 58).

Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences training would benefit international service because “persons with expertise in any one of the home economics specialty areas can give vital assistance to developing nations”(Edwards, 1977, p. 58). As suggested by Johnson (1987), there are “many factors that affect people’s health in Third World countries. There are ‘natural’ factors, such as scarcity of clean water and the effects of drought and floods on crop growth, and there are others, such as economics disparities which prevent fulfillment of basic human needs; environmental factors such as toxic waste; political factors which create unstable governments; legal factors that allow the passage of laws and customs that discriminate; and trade factors which create unsafe product marketing practices” (p. 62).

Historical Overview of Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences Beyond the United States Border

Professionals in the field of Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences have long recognized the international need for assistance. From its inception in 1909, the American Home Economics Association has had as its purpose to introduce the study of Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences into foreign countries and develop the discipline into an “international factor” (Miller, 2003). As a result, the field has been internationally active since shortly after its founding (Davis, 1999, p. 17). Since then it has been a mighty advocate for the family and has organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas (Miller, 2003, p. 58). Stemming from the creation of AHEA, the International Federation of Home Economics, IFHE, was founded in Switzerland, and is “a unique worldwide organization concerned with the promotion of home economics” (Miller, 2003, p. 58; Davis, 1999, p. 16). AHEA later changed its name to the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, AAFCS. The developments that have taken place in AAFCS in the international sphere were driven by their mission statement to keep a “global perspective in AHEA/AAFCS awareness” (Davis, 1999, p. 17). This is necessary as “human well being in all areas of family and consumer sciences affects and is affected by events and conditions worldwide” (Davis, 1999, p. 17).

The Benefit of Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences Training

“The areas inherent to AAFCS are also inherently global” (Davis, 1999, p. 19). Just as the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences training is useful in the United States, so it is useful elsewhere. Many of the issues and needs of families and communities in America are found mirrored and magnified in other countries—“there is a commonality between social, educational, and family life problems of the United States and those of other nations” (Edwards, 1977, p. 59). The recognition of this need is reflected in the AAFCS Code of Ethics, “AAFCS members obtain education, training, and experience to provide competent services to persons of diverse backgrounds or persuasions” (Richards, 2005, p. 10). Some institutions have service learning in developing countries which can “advance international understanding, foster heightened cultural sensitivity and sense-of service, and improve human conditions while also developing the leadership skills of participants” (Cowan, Kagima, Torrie, Hausafus, & Machacha, 2003, p. 55).

Improvement of the Quality of Life

The health of a family is fundamental to the growth and development of any society. This is reflected by Davis’ statement that, “Healthy families must underlie other forms of individual to international development” (1999, p. 18). “International service is the global dimension of the efforts of home economists to improve the quality of life. It is a challenging field, and one that offers unusual rewards” (Edwards, 1977, p. 60). According to Davis (1999), “many ongoing section and division activities have inherent direct and/or indirect global involvement that can benefit human well-being both locally and internationally” (p. 18). One of the mantras espoused by a college of FCS is “empowering individuals, strengthening families, and enabling communities” – with such a mindset as this, how could efforts not be productive and effective? (Cowan, Kagima, Torrie, Hausafus, & Machacha, 2003, p. 54). Johnson said it best when she wrote that because, “the overall aim of home economics is to raise the level of living and improve the quality of life for individuals and family, and the aim of development education is human progress in terms of better standards of living, hope, and self-reliance, home economists can use their knowledge and skills toward development, family resource management, housing, foods and nutrition, and research” (Johnson, 1987, p. 62).

Nutrition

“Nutrition education is basic to the well-being of people and determines the wellness level that any individual or society can expect to achieve” (Parnell, 1990, p. 139). In countries dealing with the spreading HIV-AIDS virus, proper nutrition is especially pertinent as “poor nutrition and HIV-related adverse health outcomes contribute to a vicious cycle that may be slowed down by using nutritional interventions, including vitamins and minerals” (Fawzi, Msamanga, Spiegelman & Hunter, 2005, p. 938). The Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline, when focused respectively, can equip individuals to be dietitians and nutritionists. Thus, individuals are able to counsel, advise, and instruct individuals toward healthier dietary habits (Sproles & Sproles, 1987).

Sanitation

“Poor sanitation, another example of inadequate infrastructure in the developing world, creates a critical public health problem” (Wardlaw & Smith, 2006, p. 570). “Overall, the single most effective health advantage for people, wherever they live, is a safe and convenient water supply. Inadequate sanitation and the consumption of contaminated water cause 75% of all diseases and more than one-third of all deaths in developing countries” (Wardlaw & Smith, 2006, p. 570). The Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline explores areas of sanitation (Cincinnati Public Schools, 1975). After stating that, “training in modern methods of agriculture or forestry or home economics will be used in many places,” Culley (1962) adds, “familiarity with the most effective measures for health and sanitation cannot be acquired by a casual reading, although every missionary should know the basis of healthful living” (p. 53). Instruction from missionaries in “cleanliness and sanitary methods and other prophylactic measures” has been of direct benefit to the people whom they serve (Culley, 1962, p. 63).

Resource Management

“The family, as basic to every society, makes FCS classes ‘natural’ contexts to learn about the world: different foods, costumes, housing, family patterns, management patterns, common human needs, and diverse ways of meeting them” (Davis, 1999, p. 18). The informed and careful management of one’s resources is an important emphasis in the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline. There is a one-hundred year history of developing and teaching financial education, with a goal to “help individuals and families manage their financial resources to achieve short- and long-term goals” (Lytton & Grable, 2004, p. 40). In the field of finance, the “demand for well-educated graduates is strong, and is projected to increase, particularly for women and minorities, as financial planning expands to traditionally underserved audiences” (Lytton & Grable, 2004, p. 43). As shown by Williams, “in order to attain satisfaction and quality of life with given resources, individuals must apply management knowledge and skills” (Nickols, 1985, p. 237).

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is “the process of getting into and operating your own business (Meyer & Allen, 1994, p. 5). With training in starting a private business, individuals are better able to wisely channel their talents so as to receive maximum productive results. Given this ability, they are capable of aiding others in initiating their own sources of income. Some entrepreneurial ventures “start as part-time ventures and grow into full-fledged businesses” (Meyer & Allen, 1994, p. 13). Considering the economic needs of third-world countries, the ability to start or encourage others to take entrepreneurial steps would prove useful.

Utilization of Specific Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences Skills

One of the basic coursework areas for undergraduates in a Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences program is that of clothing construction. In personal communication, Devore, a woman serving as a missionary for over twenty years, noted that the ability to perform basic and advanced garment construction was of great use to her. Other tasks included making curtains for the church building, designing and constructing all costumes for a Christmas play each year, and constructing both choir and baptismal robes, table cloths and overlays (personal communication, April 17, 2006). In addition to these tasks, Devore related specific instances when she taught crafts that involved the use of sewing machines; these crafts included ones such as quilts and potholders, aprons, chair cushions and covers for chairs, and zippered pencil bags. Thus sewing skills are beneficial to to missionaries.

Hospitality

The home is one of the most important building blocks of society, and can serve as a means for ministry and outreach. “One of the most important methods of spreading the gospel in antiquity was by the use of homes” (Green, 1970, p. 236). It is important for missionaries to recognize that “the Christianity which conquered the Roman Empire was essentially a home centered movement” (Banks & Banks, 1986, p. 64). In relation to the utilization of the home, Collins (1986) states that, “hospitality provides a means of communication which may win more souls than preaching” (p. 187).

METHOD

The purpose of this study was to determine the usefulness and practicality of the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Science discipline as a means for better equipping individuals for international service. The following research questions were explored:

  1. Is there a use for Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences instruction for individuals serving abroad?
  2. Does the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline improve the standard of living in foreign countries?

These research questions provided the focus of this study.

Method of Data Collection

The survey instrument used in this study measured the usefulness and practicality of the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Science discipline as a means for better equipping individuals for international service. A personal data sheet requested demographic data in addition to the responses to the eight survey questions. The survey instrument was distributed to women who either had served in the past or are currently serving as missionaries in foreign countries. They received and returned the survey instrument through the use of e-mail during March and April 2006.

Statistical Procedures

STATPAK was employed to examine the data; the desired scale of measurement was nominal, which can be identified by “a number, a name, a symbol of some type, a letter, or any device that indicates the various categories” (Joseph & Joseph, 1986, p. 54). The data were collected by the use of survey instruments composed of eight questions, with answers based on the Likert scale. The One Dimensional Chi-Square statistical test was employed because it is “most often used with nominal data” (Joseph & Joseph, 1986, p. 182). A .05 level of significance was used to test the results of the study. Data retrieved from the demographic portion of the survey instrument were reported in statements, percentages, and figures.

RESULTS

The subjects sampled for this study were female missionaries serving in different countries. Their years of service varied from seven months to thirty-four years, with a median of thirteen years. They completed the survey during March and April 2006. Forty-two copies of the survey instrument were distributed; twenty-nine were returned and twenty-seven were used in this study. The survey indicated that 40 countries were represented by the respondents. Table 1 summarizes the survey responses.

Table 1

Summary of Responses to Survey Questions

SURVEY QUESTION

SCALE NUMBER

TOTAL RESPONSES

COMPUTED
CHI-SQUARE VALUE

TABLED
CHI-SQUARE
VALUE

1

2

3

4

5

No Response

1

2

7

9

7

2

0

27

7.6296

9.488

2

1

3

7

7

9

0

27

8.0000

9.488

3

1

2

5

7

11

1

26

12.4615

9.488

4

1

1

14

5

4

2

25

22.8000

9.488

5

5

1

5

7

9

0

27

6.5185

9.488

6

4

5

5

5

8

0

27

1.7037

9.488

7

6

5

7

3

6

0

27

1.7037

9.488

8

3

5

4

6

9

0

27

3.9259

9.488

Research Question One

Is there a use for Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences instruction for individuals serving abroad? Questions 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8 of the survey instrument located in Appendix A addressed this research question.

Although the Chi-square value for question 2 is less than the tabled Chi-square value at the .05 level of significance, analysis would suggest that the participants still consider further teaching in nutrition to be beneficial to the people whom they serve. This finding aligned with the findings of Johnson (1987), Sproles & Sproles (1987), and Parnell (1990). Parnell (1990) proposed that “nutritional education is basic to the well-being of people” (p. 139). Sproles & Sproles (1987) found that the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline can equip individuals to be dietitians and nutritionists, and thus they are able to counsel, advise, and instruct individuals toward healthier dietary habits.

Because the computed Chi-Square value for question 3 is greater than the One – Dimensional Chi-Square statistical test value of 9.488, at the .05 level of significance, it can be concluded that there is a statistically significant difference between the participants who answered “1” and those who answered “5,” thereby proposing that they consider further teaching in resource management to be beneficial to the people whom they serve. This aligned with the findings of Johnson (1987), Lytton & Grable (2004), and Nickols (1985). Their research indicated that the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline endeavors to “help individuals and families manage their financial resources to achieve short- and long-term goals” (Lytton & Grable, 2004, p. 40). Nickols (1985) indicates that “to attain satisfaction and quality of life with given resources, individuals must apply management knowledge and skills” (p. 237).

Because the computed Chi-Square value for question 4 is greater than the One Dimensional Chi-Square statistical test value of 9.488, at the .05 level of significance, it can be concluded that there is a statistically significant difference between the participants who answered “1” and those who answered “5.” The frequency of the respondents recording a neutral number suggested that they are unsure of the benefit to themselves of further teaching in resource management. This finding does not align with the findings of Lytton & Grable (2004) and Nickols (1985). Their research indicated that the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline endeavors to “help individuals and families manage their financial resources to achieve short- and long-term goals” (Lytton & Grable, 2004, p. 40). Nickols (1985) indicated that “to attain satisfaction and quality of life with given resources, individuals must apply management knowledge and skills” (p. 237).

The computed Chi-Square value for question 6 is less than the Chi-Square statistical test value at the .05 level of significance. It can be concluded that on an insignificant level the responses of the participants suggest that they consider the area of entrepreneurship to be an area of importance. This finding aligned with the findings of Meyer & Allen (1994), who found that entrepreneurial efforts may often lead to “full-fledged businesses” (p. 13).

Because the computed Chi-Square value for question 7 is less than the Chi-Square statistical test value of 9.488, at the .05 level of significance, it can be concluded that there is not a statistically significant difference between the participants who answered “1” and those who answered “5.” The selection of the respondents in choosing a neutral number suggests that they do not consider the area of clothing construction to be an area of importance. This finding does not align with the information provided by a missionary wife (personal communication, April 17, 2006).

Although the computed Chi-Square value for question 8 is less than the tabled Chi-Square statistical test value at the .05 level of significance, analysis would indicate that the selections made by the respondents suggest that they consider the area of hospitality on their part to be an area of importance. This finding aligns with the findings of Green (1970), Banks & Banks (1986), and Collins (1986), which all purport the importance of hospitality in the missionary’s endeavor to reach out to those whom they are seeking to serve.

Research Question Two

Does the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline improve the standard of living in foreign countries? Questions 2 and 3 of the survey instrument located in Appendix A addressed this research question. Question 2 dealt with nutrition, while question 3 addressed resource management.

Although the computed Chi-Square value for question 2 was less than the One – Dimensional Chi-Square statistical test value of 9.488, at the .05 level of significance, the selections made by the respondents suggest that they do consider further teaching in nutrition to be beneficial to the people whom they serve. This finding aligns with the findings of Johnson (1987), Sproles & Sproles (1987), and Parnell (1990). Parnell (1990) proposes that “nutritional education is basic to the well-being of people” (p. 139). Sproles & Sproles (1987) found that the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline can equip individuals to be dieticians and nutritionists, and thus they are able to counsel, advise, and instruct individuals toward healthier dietary habits.

It can be concluded that because the computed Chi-Square value for question 3 was greater than the One Dimensional Chi-Square statistical test value of 9.488, at the .05 level of significance, that the respondents consider further teaching in resource management to be beneficial to the people whom they serve. This aligns with the findings of Johnson (1987), Lytton & Grable (2004), and Nickols (1985). Their research indicated that the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline endeavors to “help individuals and families manage their financial resources to achieve short- and long-term goals” (Lytton & Grable, 2004, p. 40). Nickols (1985) indicated that “to attain satisfaction and quality of life with given resources, individuals must apply management knowledge and skills” (p. 237).

Findings

The results of the One Dimensional Chi-Square statistical test suggest that the participants of this study viewed further training in resource management for the people they served as beneficial areas of knowledge and skill. The results also reveal that the participants are neutral on the benefit of both resource management training and clothing construction for themselves. The responses suggest that the participants view training in nutrition and sanitation as areas of beneficial training for their people, as well as training in entrepreneurship, and hospitality as areas of beneficial training for themselves.

DISCUSSION

Within the stated purpose and findings of this study, the following conclusions appear warranted:

  1. There is a use for Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences instruction for individuals serving abroad.
  2. The Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline has the potential to improve the standard of living in foreign countries.

Although the findings of the study yielded few results aligning with the .05 level of significance, the overall trend in the non-significant responses was that each tenet addressed in the survey was considered by the participants to be of use or benefit either to themselves or the people they serve. The applications of the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline, those that are taught in the classrooms and practiced in the homes, are of such a practical nature and assist in fulfilling the demands placed upon individuals serving as missionaries in foreign countries.

Whether it be decorating the sanctuary for a Christmas play, preparing a meal for individuals who are ill, constructing clothing for members of the church who are in need, showing struggling families how to save on their expenses, or simply demonstrating proper sanitation techniques for food preparation and cleaning, the training provided by the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline is essential to equip an individual for the meeting of such needs. The level of flexibility and ingenuity developed in students of the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Science discipline, coupled with the knowledge of financial planning and budgeting, resource management, clothing construction, research, and industriousness would serve a missionary well on their field.

Limitations of the Study

Several limitations to this study exist. The sample population consisted only of female missionaries, active or retired, during March and April 2006. A second limitation in participants is seen in those reached could only be ones with computer and internet capabilities and resources. As all respondents surveyed were from the same religious background, the variety of responses was probably biased. As a large number of the respondents served in the same country, the country distribution may have affected the results and created bias. Also, the level of familiarity of the individuals with the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline was unknown. Although the findings of this study pertain mainly to the women surveyed, a general trend may be observed and conclusions drawn.

Recommendations for Further Study

This study provides some information regarding the question of the usefulness of the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline for equipping individuals for international service. Additional questions pertaining to the usefulness of the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline for equipping individuals for international service warrant further investigation; thus, the following recommendations for further research and study are offered:

  1. This study should be replicated, using a broader, larger, and more diverse population to determine the potential use of the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline to equip individuals for international service.
  2. This study should be replicated, using a modified survey instrument which provides a clear definition and description of the tenets of the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences discipline.
  3. A study should be done to determine a possible and effective means for implementing the instruction of Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences fields of education into the training of missionaries preparing for international service.

REFERENCES

Banks, R. & Banks, J. (1986). The home church. Sutherland, Australia: Albatross Books.

Cincinnati Public Schools. (1975). Exploring careers in hospitality & food service. Bloomington, IL: McKnight Publishing Company.

Collins, M. (1986). Manual for today’s missionary: from recruitment to retirement. Pasadena, CA: W. Carey Library.

Cowan, D., Kagima, L., Torrie, M., Hausafus, C., & Machacha, R. (2003). Serving a new community: a sustaining model of international service-learning. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 95(2), 54.

Culley, P. (1962). The missionary enterprise: a guide for mission study. Wheaton, IL: Evangelical Teacher Training Association.

Davis, M. (1999). “International” in AAFCS: a new perspective. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences. 91(5), 15-20.

Edwards, C. (1977). “A new look at international service in home economics.” Journal of Home Economics. 69(4), 58-61.

Fawzi, W., Msamanga, G., Spiegelman, D., & Hunter, D. (2005). Studies of vitamins and minerals and HIV transmission and disease progression 1, 2. The Journal of Nutrition, 135(4), 938-942.

Green, M. (1970). Evangelism in the early church. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans

Johnson, B. (1987). Third world development: why should home economists care?. Illinois Teacher of Home Economics, 33(4), 62-63.

Joseph & Joseph, (1986). Research fundamentals in home economics. Redondo Beach, CA: Plycon Press.

Lytton, R. & Grable, J. (2004). FCS academic programs and financial planning industry: partnering to meet growing demand. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 96(3), 40-46.

Meyer, E. & Allen, K. (1994). Entrepreneurship and small business management. New York: Glencoe Division of Macmillan/McGraw-Hill School Publishing.

Miller, M. (2003). IFHE promotes international economics at United Nations. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 95(1), 58-59.

Nickols, S. (Ed.). (1985). The balancing act: thinking globally/acting locally: proceedings of a workshop. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University.

Parnell, F. (1990). Eating for the health of it. Illinois Teacher of Home Economics, 33(4), 139-140.

Richards, V. (2005). Perpetuating core values in family and consumer sciences. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 97(3), 8-11.

Sproles, E. & Sproles, G. (1987). Professional development in home economics. 2 nd ed. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.

STATPAK.

Wardlaw, G. & Smith, A. (2006). Contemporary nutrition: issues and insights, sixth edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.

APPENDIX A

HOME ECONOMICS ON THE FOREIGN FIELD

A SURVEY INSTRUMENT

I am a student at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, California, and am taking a class in which I will write an undergraduate thesis. I have constructed this survey in order to obtain important foundational research for my thesis. This survey instrument was constructed in an effort to disclose the practicality of the Home Economics-Family and Consumer Science discipline for equipping individuals in foreign service as they seek to aid nationals by improving their standard of living. Throughout this study, the abbreviation HE-FCS represents Home Economics – Family and Consumer Science. If you would please take few minutes to thoughtfully complete this survey, I would appreciate it very much. To mark your answer to each question, please select the chosen answer and make it bold. Thank you.

Danielle Devore

In which country/countries have you served?
How many years have you served as a missionary?      
How many mission agencies have you served under?
Please list any mission agencies that have offered any HE-FCS or Life Skills training.      
Have you ever taken a class in HE-FCS?      

1. I have an understanding of what the HE-FCS discipline entails.

Strongly
Disagree
     
Strongly
Agree
1
2
3
4
5

2. Nutrition is an area in which further knowledge would benefit the people to whom I minister.

Strongly
Disagree
     
Strongly
Agree
1
2
3
4
5

3. Resource management is an area in which further knowledge would benefit the people to whom I minister.

Strongly
Disagree
     
Strongly
Agree
1
2
3
4
5

4. I feel I would benefit from further knowledge in resource management skills.

Strongly
Disagree
     
Strongly
Agree
1
2
3
4
5

5. The people whom I serve display sanitation standards below my own.

Strongly
Disagree
     
Strongly
Agree
1
2
3
4
5

6. I feel I would benefit from taking a class on the practical aspects of entrepreneurship.

Strongly
Disagree
     
Strongly
Agree
1
2
3
4
5

7. I feel I would benefit from taking a class on the practical aspects of clothing construction.

Strongly
Disagree
     
Strongly
Agree
1
2
3
4
5

8. I feel I would benefit from taking a class on the practical aspects of hospitality

Strongly
Disagree
     
Strongly
Agree
1
2
3
4
5


URC RESOURCES:

©2002-2016 All rights reserved by the Undergraduate Research Community.

Research Journal: Vol. 1 Vol. 2 Vol. 3 Vol. 4 Vol. 5 Vol. 6 Vol. 7 Vol. 8 Vol. 9 Vol. 10 Vol. 11 Vol. 12 Vol. 13 Vol. 14 Vol. 15
High School Edition

Call for Papers ¦ URC Home ¦ Kappa Omicron Nu

KONbutton K O N KONbutton