Increasing Content Knowledge and Self-Efficacy of High School Educators through an Online Course in Food Science



Purdue Univ.'s College of Agriculture developed an Advanced Life Sciences (ALS) program in partnership with several high schools across Indiana. As part of ALS, secondary educators take an introductory food science (FS) course (ALS-Foods) and teach it at their high school. High school students taking the ALS-Foods receive dual credit for an introductory course required for all FS majors at Purdue. The goal of this project was to develop an online course to improve content knowledge and self-efficacy of secondary educators in the field of FS. The course was offered over a 3-wk period and consisted of 3 learning modules focused on food chemistry, food microbiology, and food processing. Modules included class activities, videos, study questions, and teaching tools. Participants were assessed on content knowledge through written assignments, quizzes, and a final examination. Twenty secondary educators from several states were enrolled. Overall, content knowledge increased significantly (P < 0.05) across all 3 modules after completing the course. Highest scores were in food microbiology/safety (84%), followed by food processing (76%) and food chemistry (70%). A precourse survey indicated that the majority (>80%) of participants felt they had “no-confidence” to “little-confidence” in teaching FS concepts related to the 3 modules. Upon completing the course, the confidence level of all participants increased to “some-confidence” or “complete confidence.” By strengthening the knowledge level of secondary educators, they will be better prepared to teach FS and subsequently, more high school students could be exposed to FS and consider it as a career.