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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Residue Chemistry and Predictive Microbiology Research » Research » Research Project #428504

Research Project: Enhancing Food Safety Education by Incorporating Simulation-Based Learning

Location: Residue Chemistry and Predictive Microbiology Research

Project Number: 8072-42000-079-02-N
Project Type: Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2015
End Date: Aug 31, 2018

1. Increase the number and diversity of students who will pursue and complete a postsecondary degree in the food and agricultural sciences in the NIFA priority area of food safety. 2. Enhance the quality of postsecondary instruction in order to help the current and future national food and agricultural sciences workplace need in the area of food safety. Within the program goals, it will primarily address the Educational Need Areas of Instructional Delivery Systems and Expanding Student Career Opportunities. Specific objectives of this project: 1) Distill critical food safety concepts (see 4) in relation to formal undergraduate and graduate education and determine how simulation technology can enhance the understanding of these concepts; 2) Develop simulation-based learning modules that integrate interdisciplinary knowledge in a seamless manner for use in formal classrooms to: a) enhance the critical food safety concepts identified in 1) and b) allow the learner to apply these concepts in more complex situations than in traditional learning; 3) Build on the available software and develop additional computational capabilities and appropriate interfaces that enable the use of simulation with the target audiences, and validate for a range of product, process, microbiology and risk scenarios using data from the literature; 4) Develop tutorials, video-based training materials (using the visualization capabilities of simulation) and other “instructor-proof” supporting materials to enable the routine use of simulation to enhance food safety education in formal classrooms; 5) Implement and assess the modules in food science and food engineering courses at several universities; 6) Disseminate the training material, procedures, results, software, and recommendations developed from the project through national workshops and a Website.

We will distill the critical food safety concepts and group them into three hierarchical, interlinked groups (Microbiological growth and inactivation simulation to be built on available USDA-ARS-PMP software; integrated process and microbial growth and inactivation simulation to be built on the available IPS software at Cornell Univ.; risk simulation to be built on risk simulation modules at UM-JIFSAN) that are well defined, educationally distinct, and for which appropriate software either exists or has recently become available. Our scheme can also be seen as three scales of predictive food safety—microbiology alone (small scale), microbiology plus process (intermediate scale), and risk and public health impact (larger scale). We then group the target audiences into two distinct groups—food (and related) scientists and food (and related) engineers in formal classroom situations. For each target audience, we will develop appropriate learning modules that interlace simulation with knowledge to be imparted, needed computing capabilities, tutorials, and other visually-based training materials with which to introduce the modules easily into existing classrooms. We will implement the developed modules in classrooms and assess the enhancement in learning to provide feedback for further improvement of this simulation-based approach.