Location: Market Quality and Handling ResearchTitle: Positive Effects of Converting a Food and Bioprocessing Analysis Course to an Inquiry-Guided Approach) Author
Submitted to: Journal of Food Science Education
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/22/2011
Publication Date: 11/29/2012
Citation: Harris, G.K., Cvitkusic, S., Draut, A.S., Hathorn, C.S., Stephens, A.M., Constanza, K.E., Leonardelli, M.J., Watkins, R.H., Dean, L.L., Hentz, N.G. 2012. Positive Effects of Converting a Food and Bioprocessing Analysis Course to an Inquiry-Guided Approach. Journal of Food Science Education. Vol 11, N2 p 23-27. Interpretive Summary: It is customary to teach a course such as food analysis by using individual laboratories that have been planned in advance and are completed during a single laboratory instruction period of several hours. Inquiry-guided (IG) laboratories consist of assigning students in small groups to analyze a food product using a set of five analyses during the semester. It is thought that this would require the students to design their own experiments, adapt the testing required to their own needs and to learn how to solve problems when the analysis does not operate as the student expects. The students would learn to think for themselves and to become problem solvers. In addition to doing their own laboratory studies, the students were assigned to determine what types of analyses were best for their assignment, make lists for needed supplies and to create budgets for the work. Online discussions were also required so that other students, the teacher and the teaching assistants could follow the progress of the group. When compared to previous years when the class was taught in the traditional way, the students earned higher grades for all years except 2008. It was concluded that using the IG approach caused student to do better in class. Students took surveys to determine their personal satisfaction with their learning and scored the IG approach higher than the traditional one.
Technical Abstract: Food science laboratory courses are traditionally taught as a series of preplanned laboratories with known endpoints. In contrast, inquiry-guided (IG) laboratories allow students to ask questions, think through problems, design experiments, then adapt and learn in response to unexpected results. This study examined the effects of converting the course “Analytical Techniques in Food and Bioprocessing Sciences” from a traditional approach (2008 to 2010 data) to an IG approach (2011 data) by assigning teams of 2-3 students a food and a set of 5 analyses to conduct over the course of the semester. Students were required to choose and justify the use of specific methods for each analysis, as well as to develop a supply list and a budget for the semester-long project. During the semester, students were required to post and discuss their weekly progress with the instructor, teaching assistants, and the rest of the class using an online discussion forum. At the end of the semester, students were required to present the results of their analysis in both oral and written formats. Overall course grade were significantly higher (P = 0.05) using IG in 2011 compared to 2010 and 2009, but not to 2008 grades. Numerical course evaluations for the instructor, overall course, and lab, as well as written course evaluations all significantly (P = 0.05) improved. This suggests that an IG approach may measurably improve student performance in terms of course grades and the ability to complete semester long projects. It may also increase student satisfaction with the course, as measured by numerical and written end of semester surveys.