Food science-based instruction
Peacock, Amy Rowley
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The food industry faces a shortage of graduates needed to fill scientific and technical positions available in the coming years, and university food science programs will not meet this demand. Although food science is a rapidly expanding profession, most students are not introduced to food science until the college years. To meet this challenge, university food science programs must increase the number of students enrolling in and graduating from their programs and maximize the knowledge and skills of those students. This study assessed high school and undergraduate student awareness of food science, determined the effect of food science-based instruction on high school students’ attitudes toward science, identified factors influencing the selection of an undergraduate major in food science, and explored the use of active learning in undergraduate food science instruction. Student awareness of food science was low. Food science-based instruction had positive effects on students’ attitudes toward science, and teacher perceptions of food science-based instruction were positive and supported the idea of further incorporating food science into the high school science curriculum. Undergraduate students enjoyed active learning exercises but showed resistance to change from traditional instruction. Students’ course evaluation scores generally improved as a result of improvements made to the course; however, assessment scores did not improve following the use of active learning exercises. Incorporating food science into the high school science classroom has great potential to increase the number of students that choose food science as a major. To build upon recent efforts to incorporate food science into the high school classroom, university food science programs should develop curriculum materials, partner with science teachers, and provide a link between high schools and the food industry. Once students arrive on the college campus, it is important that university food science programs continue to attract students through courses and campus recruiting activities that target students with an interest in science. Beyond recruiting, undergraduate food science instruction should further explore maximizing the talents of future graduates by replacing traditional instructional methods with more active approaches that give students the skills needed to succeed in the industry.
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