Career Preparedness Survey Outcomes of Food Science Graduates—A Follow-Up Assessment

Authors

  • Jeffri Bohlscheid,

    1. Author Bohlscheid is with the BiState School of Food Science, Univ. of Idaho, 606 Rayburn St. Moscow, ID 83844–2312, U.S.A. Author Clark is with the Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State Univ., 2553 Food Sciences Building, Ames, IA 50011–1061, U.S.A. Direct inquiries to author Bohlscheid (E-mail: jeffb@uidaho.edu).
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  • Stephanie Clark

    1. Author Bohlscheid is with the BiState School of Food Science, Univ. of Idaho, 606 Rayburn St. Moscow, ID 83844–2312, U.S.A. Author Clark is with the Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State Univ., 2553 Food Sciences Building, Ames, IA 50011–1061, U.S.A. Direct inquiries to author Bohlscheid (E-mail: jeffb@uidaho.edu).
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  • Clark was with the BiState School of Food Science Washington State University, PO Box 646376, Pullman WA, 99164–6376, U.S.A. when the research was conducted.

Abstract

Abstract:  Fifty-eight recent graduates (1998–2008) from the joint Washington State University (WSU) and University of Idaho (UI) BiState School of Food Science program and 27 of their employers participated in a survey assessing learning outcomes based on the 2001 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) core competencies for undergraduate food science programs. Parallel web-based survey instruments for the graduates and employers using the WSU Skylight Matrix Survey System© were employed to assess the attitudes of the respondents to the frequency of usage of IFT defined skills and the adequacy of the graduates’ preparation from the program. Graduates responded that they were generally satisfied with their education; however, they reported lower rates of adequate or better preparation in Success Skill involving group dynamics, processing and engineering skills, and government regulations. Most of these skills were also the least frequently used by graduates in their careers. Success Skills were the most frequently performed competencies, while food microbiology and safety, and some engineering and processing skills were used less frequently by graduates of the Food Science program. Greater than 80% of the employers reported that the graduates’ performance was adequate or better in all skill areas. The assessment suggested program improvement since a similar survey in 2004, but also illuminated areas for improvement in teaching and learning, particularly in light of the revised IFT 2011 Guidelines. Specifically, graduates and employers emphasized the need for more course work that weaves critical thinking skills, group dynamics, and government regulations into the classroom. Graduates also highlighted the importance of internships and extracurricular activities for career preparation.

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