Research in Food Science Education
Introduction to the IFT 2011 Resource Guide for Approval and Re-Approval of Undergraduate Food Science Programs
The publication of the 2011 Resource Guide for Approval and Re-Approval of Undergraduate Food Science Programs represents many hours of hard work by members of the Task Force, IFT's Higher Education Review Board (HERB), IFT staff and Board of Directors (BOD), and many individuals in food science programs who provided feedback at different stages of its development. In a sense, it also represents the chronological history of IFT's involvement in food science education over the past 70 y and highlights IFT's efforts to develop guidelines over the years to foster rigorous scientific training and professional skills for undergraduate students enrolled in food science and technology programs.
While there were a handful of universities offering curricula in food technology from the 1920s to 1950s, a growth phase of food science programs occurred in the 1950s and 1960s (Livingston 1972). The undergraduate curricula developed by food science programs were greatly influenced by IFT's 1958 publication of a “model curriculum” for food technologists (Schaffer 1958). In 1966 and 1977, this curriculum was formalized as guidelines in which IFT recommended a minimum number of food science courses as well as basic science courses (physics, chemistry, calculus) that were required of students graduating with a BS in food science (Anonymous 1966, 1977).
In the 1992 revision of the Minimum Standards, minor changes were made to the document as a result of a survey of how individuals in the food industry and government, students, and faculty viewed the 1977 Minimum Standards. The changes included adding the following educational skills: communications, critical thinking, mathematics, and computer literacy, along with strengthening the undergraduate's ability to apply statistics within the profession (Anonymous 1992; Satterlee 1992). A well-documented historical perspective of food science education up to 1989 was published by Fennema (1989) in Food Technology for the 50th Anniversary Issue of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).
While educational skills were incorporated into the 1992 guidelines, questions remained about whether food science graduates possessed the technical knowledge and skills necessary for careers in the food industry. Thus in 1998, the IFT Executive Committee formed a taskforce “to review and recommend outcome-based guidelines as compared to minimum standards to inspire excellence in food science education.” While basic and food science content knowledge, competencies, and educational skills were kept, programs were now required to develop program and individual course outcomes as well as create an assessment program to measure how well students met those outcomes. Programs were also required to have a formal process in place to make curricular improvements based on the collected assessment data in the 2001 IFT Educational Standards (Hartel 2001). During the first round of reviews under the 2001 Standards, many programs were “IFT Approved” for 5 y based on facilities, curricula, learning outcomes for each food science course, and an assessment method for program and course learning outcomes. Hartel (2006) describes how food science departments were meeting the new guidelines for the first review and how the approving body at that time (Committee on Higher Education [CoHE]) attempted to assist programs with the development of program and course outcomes. However, during the second round of reviews when approved programs submitted documentation for “re-approval,” members of CoHE noticed that some programs either did not carry out the assessment plan they proposed or make curricular improvements based on the data collected (Hartel 2006).
With this historical framework in mind, the HERB, formerly the CoHE, formed the 2011 Guidelines Task Force to review the effectiveness and consider possible revisions to the 2001 Educational Standards.
Timeline and the Processes of the 2011 Task Force
In Fall 2008, IFT's HERB formed the 2011 Guidelines Task Force in preparation of a 10-y review and possible revision of IFT's minimum standards for undergraduate degrees in food science. The Task Force membership was finalized in June, 2009, and was composed of a representative group of academicians, students, and food industry personnel. A timeline for key activities was presented to HERB at the 2009 Annual Meeting in Anaheim, with the intent of submitting the final guidelines for approval to the IFT BOD in Fall, 2010. One of the first tasks undertaken was to send out a memo to all food science programs notifying them of the Task Force's mission to request feedback on the current 2001 guidelines and to possibly revise the 2001 Guidelines. The questions asked of the programs were as follows:
- 1Have the 2001 IFT Guidelines for Undergraduate Food Science programs (hereafter called 2001 Guidelines) helped to clarify food science program outcomes? Why or why not?
- 2Have the 2001 IFT Guidelines helped to clarify food science individual course outcomes? Why or why not?
- 3Have the 2001 Guidelines helped to develop assessment tools for feedback on food science program outcomes? Please explain why or why not?
- 4Have the 2001 Guidelines helped to develop assessment tools for feedback on food science individual course outcomes? Please explain why or why not?
- 5If not addressed above, what major or minor concerns/issues do your faculty members have with the 2001 Guidelines? How can the Guidelines be improved for 2011?
Reminder e-mails were sent out during the summer of 2009 and feedback was received from a total of 19 food science programs. The comments received on the 2001 Guidelines ranged from “being very helpful” to “not helpful at all.” Most of the comments from the programs could be categorized into 4 topical areas: (1) 2001 Guidelines/core competencies; (2) the IFT approval/application process; (3) assessment; and (4) required classes/skills development. Task Force members then closely scrutinized the comments and came up with several key recommendations in a conference call in October, 2009.
- • Consider having only program outcomes.
- • Consider having re-applications be more like updates rather than having programs submit a detailed re-application packet (similar to the initial application).
- • The Education Standards should be combined/merged with the Guide Book for FS programs.
- • Streamline the application process.
- • Tier approval process. FS programs with well-developed and designed outcomes and assessment tools receive 5-y approvals; programs with less developed outcomes and assessment receive 3-y approvals; and programs just joining IFT or programs with rudimentary outcomes and assessment receive a 1-y approval. This way, no program “flunks” the IFT approval process.
- • There should be 1 single all-inclusive checklist.
- • While the spirit of the current guidelines is adequate, the measurement piece is a challenge. The more examples we can give to illustrate the point, the better the evaluation.
Feedback was also requested and obtained from the FS heads and chairs at their meeting in November, 2009 in Corvallis, Oregon. Heads and chairs were able to comment and vote upon the recommendations from the Task Force and the ones receiving the most support (votes) were the following: (1) streamline the approval process; (2) provide useful examples of types of assessment from programs and courses—this appears to be a major hurdle for programs; (3) need more recognition of IFT approval by the food industry; and (4) combine the 2 documents currently available, “Undergraduate Education Standards for Degrees in Food Science” and “Guidebook for Food Science Programs.” The Task Force recommendations that were rejected or did not receive as much support were (1) consider a “tier” approval process; and (2) maintain the structure and competencies, content, and learning outcomes created by the 2001 Guidelines.
With the information collected from the programs and the Food Science heads and chairs, together with the Task Force recommendations, an initial draft of the guidelines was produced by a subcommittee in March, 2010 and circulated among Task Force members. To obtain as much input as possible from food science educators, the Task Force also requested and obtained approval to present a symposium at the 2010 Annual Meeting in Chicago to introduce and receive feedback on the new guidelines from all IFT members. Each time the Task Force received relevant feedback, it was incorporated into the document.
The 2011 Guidelines went through 5 revisions before it was approved by HERB at its October, 2010 teleconference meeting. The document was then presented to the IFT BOD for approval at its November, 2010 meeting. Much discussion ensued and the BOD approved the document in principle; however, BOD members felt that there needed to be specific definitions of learning, course, and program outcomes, examples of how programs will be evaluated (a rubric), and specific consequences for not submitting annual reports. Changes were incorporated to include these suggestions, and the final 2011 Guidelines (following article) were approved by IFT's BOD in April, 2011. The 2011 Standards incorporate the following major changes from the 2001 Standards:
- • One document that combines all the information that was in 2 documents.
- • FS program applicants will have the opportunity to view sample sections of applications from recently approved universities (where there was none before).
- • Application for 5-y Re-Approval asks for less information than for initial approval.
- • A 3 to 4 page annual report must be submitted by August 31 of each year to document program or course assessments completed the previous year. In the past, once a program was approved, there was no communication from the program until a renewal application was submitted 5 y later.
- • HERB members familiar with assessment processes will provide feedback to each program's annual assessment report.
- • HERB and IFT's Education Division will develop and sponsor Webcasts as well as education workshops at IFT Annual meetings on best practices on teaching and learning and in outcomes and assessment.
- • There are 7 appendices in the new guidelines that contain checklists, forms, and rubrics to assist programs applying for IFT approval and re-approval.
Rationale for Including Annual Reports
A major change to the guidelines was the addition of the requirement for each approved program to submit an annual report. This action, which drew the greatest opposition from food science heads and chairs, was incorporated to assist programs to carry out and conduct assessment in a timely manner. As early as 2006 in a program's request for re-approval, Hartel (2006) noted “One program, however, had not made any progress in terms of writing learning outcomes, developing a comprehensive assessment program, or having a clear process for continued curricular improvement.” In subsequent years (2008 to 2010) as more programs came up for re-approval, HERB had to defer approval or not approve programs because in many cases, there was missing or insufficient information on program or course assessment. This resulted in extra work for HERB members and IFT staff as extra time and energy had to be expended for additional meetings and conference calls to accommodate the programs’ re-applications. The members of the 2011 Task Force, HERB, and the IFT BOD felt that this requirement with annual reports will greatly assist programs to keep outcomes assessment in the forefront at a program's curricular meetings and to help programs conduct assessment in a timely manner over a 5-y period. Finally, university accrediting agencies are now requiring baccalaureate degree programs to submit assessment activities on an annual basis to their respective assessment offices, so food science programs will not have to do much additional work to meet IFT's requirement.
Changing Nature of Education
Education is changing and student learning roles need to change. Nobel laureate Herbert Simon pointed out that “knowing” has shifted from being able to remember and repeat information to being able to find and use it. “More than ever, the sheer magnitude of human knowledge renders its coverage by education an impossibility. The role of content must be to drive the development of the lifelong learning skills, thinking abilities, and communication skills crucial to students’ success—content is not an end in itself” (Anonymous 2008). Programs need to re-structure their courses so students can learn and practice communicating effectively in a wide variety of ways with very diverse populations, use information to solve problems in different situations than in the situation in which the information was first learned, use information to solve problems that have not yet appeared, and use their thinking skills to analyze and evaluate multiple pieces of data at once and synthesize new solutions. The new guidelines should help food science programs move in this direction.
This introduction was intended to show how the present guidelines are the result of evolution over the years as IFT made efforts to modify and improve the minimum standards or guidelines in response to the changing needs of the food science profession. More modifications and improvements are anticipated in the next set of guidelines as food science programs are faced with additional problems and challenges. It is fortunate for those of us who are in the food science educational community that IFT and the 2001 Task Force chaired by Wisconsin's Richard Hartel had the foresight to develop the new guidelines when they did in 2001. It is becoming obvious that subsequent development and improvement of outcomes and assessments for food science courses and programs will result in students being better learners, communicators, critical thinkers, problem solvers, leaders, and eventually, better food scientists.
Finally I wish to express my deep appreciation to the members of the 2011 Guideline Task Force who made constructive suggestions for changes and provided perspective as we went through the process. In particular, I wish to single out George Miller of IFT who kept everyone on track, arranged for meetings and conference calls, and made sure the wording in the document was consistent and accurate. The members of the Task Force are as follows:
- ▪ Mark Corey, graduate student, Univ. of Georgia
- ▪ Bruce Ferree, CA Natural Products, CA
- ▪ John Floros, Penn State Univ.
- ▪ Crystal Goshorn, graduate student, Univ. of Illinois
- ▪ Richard Hartel, Univ. of Wisconsin, 2001 Guidelines chair
- ▪ Christine Nowakowski, General Mills, Minneapolis, MN
- ▪ Mohan Rao, Frito Lay, Dallas, TX, 2001 Guidelines Task Force member
- ▪ Kelsey Ryan, graduate student, North Carolina State Univ. and IFT Student Association President (2009 to 2010)
- ▪ Martin Sancho-Madriz, California State Univ. – Pomona
- ▪ Donn Ward, North Carolina State Univ. (Retired July 2010)
- ▪ Lawrence Wu, Bossa Nova Superfruit, Los Angeles, CA
- ▪ Wayne Iwaoka, Univ. of Hawaii at Manoa, Chair
- ▪ George Miller, IFT Coordinator