In 1966, the Institute of Food Technologists established minimum standards for undergraduate curricula in food science. Since then, IFT has revised these standards periodically to help colleges and universities evaluate the effectiveness of academic selection, guidance, and preparation of undergraduate students.
The most recent revision of the IFT Education Standards in November 2001 marked a radical change in approach to reviewing food science programs in universities and colleges. The emphasis for program review moved away from specific course requirements to a more flexible approach, but one that required programs to carefully consider student learning.
In brief, the 2001 IFT Education Standards require programs to have the following five items:
• Facilities and Faculty. Facilities must be sufficient for teaching appropriate food science topics, including labs and pilot plant, in addition to having a minimum of four full-time instructional faculty.
• Core Competency Grid. All topics in the core competency grid must be covered somewhere within the curriculum, and all essential background prerequisite courses are required.
• Outcomes. Learning outcomes must be written for all required food science courses and for the curriculum as a whole (programmatic outcomes).
• Assessments. Appropriate assessment methods must be used to evaluate student learning at both the course and program levels (i.e., measurement for outcomes).
• Commitment to Improvement. A plan must be in place for continual program improvement based on the assessment data collected.
The advantages of IFT approval—and of this particular approach to program review—are many. In general, of course, the IFT Education Standards provide a baseline that defines the field of food science, giving programs a well-accepted standard target. Smaller programs have used the IFT Education Standards to maintain resources through difficult budgetary times. The new IFT Education Standards provide flexibility to cover core competencies without requiring specific courses; this allows programs to maximize resource utilization while still offering comprehensive coverage of important food science principles. Instructors must detail exactly what students should be able to do, in the form of measurable learning outcomes, and develop assessment methods that truly evaluate the level of student learning across the entire curriculum. The result of this approach should be to enhance excellence in food science education.
This article, prepared in collaboration with the IFT Committee on Higher Education (CoHE), will provide an overview of the recently completed first round of program reviews and expand on the expectations for the second round of reviews. More details on the current state of IFT approval, expectations for the second round of reviews, and suggestions for future directions in the 2011 Education Standards can be found in a companion article, "2001 IFT Education Standards: A Five-Year Perspective" by Richard W. Hartel, to be published in the October 2006 issue of Journal of Food Science Education (accessible online at www.ift.org).
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Results of First Round of Reviews
Over the past five years, CoHE has reviewed approximately 50 food science programs across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Of the programs that had previously been IFT-approved, only two were not reapproved, since their faculty numbers had fallen below the four full-time instructional faculty requirement. However, during that time, two new programs were added to the list of IFT-approved programs when they were able to document that they met the new Education Standards.
Most, if not all, programs required substantial effort in preparing for IFT approval. In addition to preparing a grid that clearly documented in which course each of the core competencies were covered, each program had to show that they were making progress in developing measurable learning outcomes and had begun to use assessment methods to measure student learning at an appropriate level. Despite the required effort, the overwhelming consensus of program representatives who spoke with CoHE about their programs said that this process had substantial benefit. Bringing instructional staff together to talk about student learning was a powerful motivator for improving undergraduate Food Science instruction.
In the first round of reviews based on the 2001 Education Standards, CoHE essentially focused on making sure that each program met the facility requirement, had the necessary background classes, had a sufficient curriculum to meet each core competency, and had started working toward assessment of learning outcomes. IFT approval was deferred for many programs (perhaps up to half of the applications), pending additional information on some element of the Education Standards. These programs were reviewed at the next scheduled CoHE meeting and were generally approved at that time.
CoHE was quite lenient about progress in writing learning outcomes and developing deep assessment methods. Where programs did not meet every core competency or were struggling with learning outcomes and assessment methods, CoHE provided as much assistance as possible to help the program move forward. All programs were encouraged to continue working on assessment of learning outcomes, in anticipation of the next five-year review. CoHE also cosponsored with the Education Division numerous symposia at IFT Annual Meetings on learning outcomes, assessment methods, and instructional methods in general.
Probably the main stumbling block in the first round of reviews was the background course requirements, i.e., the prerequisite courses to the food science curriculum.The 2001 IFT Education Standards retained essentially the same set of background courses (chemistry, physics, calculus, etc.) required in previous versions. However, many programs fell short of these required courses, because of either university constraints (lack of appropriate courses, overall credit limitations, etc.) or programmatic oversight. CoHE worked closely with each program to find acceptable alternatives. In more than one case, CoHE was able to accommodate missing background courses after the program implemented a rigorous plan of assessment of learning outcomes. That is, a program could meet the intent of a required background course by assessing pertinent learning outcomes for that prerequisite at appropriate points in the curriculum.
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Over the past five years, CoHE received several requests for information from food science programs outside of North America. CoHE was generally supportive of international applications, and at least one international program, from Europe, submitted documentation for IFT approval. However, the differences in programs and requirements were quite extensive, and both sides agreed that the differences were too extreme. Ultimately, the application was withdrawn. Despite this initial lack of success internationally, CoHE is considering ways to broaden the application of the IFT Education Standards in conjunction with other international food science organizations.
In March 2006, three programs were reviewed for the second time. Two of those programs passed with flying colors, having taken the assessment of student learning quite seriously since the time of their last review. 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. Although given a six-month reprieve, this program risks losing IFT approval unless it makes sufficient progress in developing a program for assessment of student learning outcomes. CoHE will offer assistance to this program to ensure that such progress is made.
Expectations for Second Round of Reviews
From the experiences learned in the first round of reviews and the three programs reviewed for the second time, a new set of expectations has emerged. In the first round, it was enough to document that a program met the core competencies and were working toward writing learning outcomes and developing an assessment program. In the second round, expectations are much higher, and the committee is looking for significant progress in assessment of learning outcomes.
To assist programs in preparing for IFT review, CoHE has developed a Guide Book for Food Science Programs (www.ift.org/cms/?pid=1000428), which includes a form to help prepare documentation for IFT review. The Guide Book provides details of CoHE expectations and resources for assessment of learning outcomes. Specific points that CoHE will look for in program review are detailed in the following paragraphs.
• Each program must clearly verify that facilities and resources (four faculty instructors) meet the minimum requirements.
• All required backgound courses must be clearly listed, including the course number, title, credits, and whether a lab is required. If a required background course is missing, a program can still be approved as long as it can document where the students are learning the material normally covered in the specified class and that it is assessing appropriate learning outcomes for that background material prior to starting required food science classes with that course as a prerequisite. In principle, this means that a program does not have to require, for example, an organic chemistry class, as long as the students have learned the material elsewhere (as in a combined general and organic chemistry course, or through college preparatory classes, as found in some international programs) and learning outcomes are being assessed at the point where that knowledge is needed in the food science courses. Clear documentation of both points is needed for IFT approval. This approach puts the burden of proof on the program seeking approval and is consistent with CoHE's commitment to education based on assessment of learning outcomes.
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• All required courses of a food science curriculum (those used to complete the core competency grid) must be clearly listed, including course numbers, titles, and credits. A suggested course sequence for each program allows the committee to quickly see what courses are required and when in the curriculum the students take each course.
• The core competency grid, or its equivalent, must be completely filled out so that CoHE can quickly ascertain that all competencies are covered in the curriculum. If any deficiencies were noted in previous reviews, these should be clearly addressed in the document for reapproval. Some indication of the taxonomic level (e.g., Bloom's taxonomy) at which each competency is taught should be incorporated into the core competency grid for the second round of program reviews.
• Learning outcomes for all required core food science courses used to complete the core competency grid (including those taught outside the department) and for the curriculum as a whole (programmatic learning outcomes) must be clearly written (agreement by the full faculty is implicit). A true learning outcome is one that can be assessed. For example, to say that students should understand mass balances is not a very specific learning outcome. A better way to state a learning outcome is to use an active verb typical of one of the levels of Bloom's taxonomy. In the case of mass balances, it might be better to state a learning outcome at Bloom's level III (Application) as, for example, "the student should able to set up equations and solve mass balances for complex process flow systems, including batch mixing problems, multiple stage flow problems, problems with multiple inflows and outflows, recycle streams."
• Significant progress in development of comprehensive assessment programs must be apparent at both the course and programmatic levels. Specifically, there must be clear evidence that there is a commitment (from faculty, administration, and students) to meaningful assessment of learning outcomes to promote excellence in food science education. CoHE can provide additional input and assistance to help the continued development of the assessment program. Both current status and future plans should be discussed.
• Specific examples of deep assessment of student learning must be provided in each required course (beyond what's provided in the course summary sheets). Assessments above and beyond traditional homework and exams are strongly encouraged, especially in upper-level courses where higher levels of Bloom's taxonomy are developed. Several examples of programmatic assessment of learning outcomes must also be provided.
• A process for continuous curricular reform to improve student learning based on the assessment data must be in place. A summary of the process must be provided, along with several examples of how the process was used recently for curricular improvement. Plans for future developments should also be discussed.
Based on the first round of reviews, implementation of the 2001 IFT Education Standards has been extremely successful. Despite the additional work to meet the new requirements, virtually every program agreed that preparing for IFT review with these Education Standards was a beneficial experience.
In the next five years, CoHE expects that food science programs have committed to making the transition to assessment of learning outcomes and have taken the appropriate steps for meaningful curricular reform based on assessment data collected to date. Furthermore, CoHE will gladly provide assistance to any program desiring a helping hand in moving toward a fully student-centered curriculum.
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IFT's Committee on Higher Education, 2006–07
Joseph E. Marcy (Chair), Virginia Polytechnic Institute
Mukund V. Karwe (Chair Designate), Rutgers University
Julie B. Hirsch (Past Chair), Wellgen, Inc.
Tammy Rooney Duke, Pizza Hut, Inc.
Rolando Arturo Flores, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Kirby Dale Hayes, Purdue University
Wayne T. Iwaoka, University of Hawaii
Amanda Agnes Lathrop, National Food Laboratory
Donald J. Lynch, Gorton's Inc.
Aubrey F. Mendonca, Iowa State University
Richard P. Metivier, Frito-Lay, Inc.
Steven J. Mulvaney, Cornell University
Samuel A. Palumbo, National Center for Food Safety and Technology
Karen P. Penner, Colorado State University
Martin Sancho-Madriz, California State Polytechnic University-Pomona
Donn R. Ward, North Carolina State University
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Approved Undergraduate Programs
The following universities have food science/technology departments or programs that offer curricula and options that meet the IFT Undergraduate Education Standards for Degrees in Food Science. Students enrolled in these programs are eligible to apply for IFT Scholarships. IFT Scholarships and Fellowships are provided by the IFT Foundation and IFT Foundation donors.
Alabama A&M University http://webspace.aamu.edu/fas/index.htm
University of Alberta www.afns.ualberta.ca
University of Arkansas www.uark.edu/depts/foodsci/foodsci-home.html
Auburn University www.humsci.auburn.edu/publish.php?id=110
Brigham Young University http://ndfs.byu.edu
University of British Columbia www.agsci.ubc.ca
University of California-Davis http://foodscience.ucdavis.edu
California Polytechnic State University http://foods.calpoly.edu/
California State University, Fresno http://cast.csufresno.edu/fsn
Clemson University www.clemson.edu/foodscience
University of Florida http://fshn.ifas.ufl.edu/
University of Georgia www.uga.edu/fst
University of Guelph www.foodscience.uoguelph.ca/home/
University of Idaho www.ag.uidaho.edu/fst
University of Illinois www.fshn.uiuc.edu
Iowa State University www.fshn.hs.iastate.edu/
Kansas State University www.foodsci.k-state.edu/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=707
University of Kentucky www.uky.edu/Agriculture/AnimalSciences/foodsci/foodscience.html
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Université Laval [email protected]
Louisiana State University www.agctr.lsu.edu/foodscience
University of Maine www.ume.maine.edu/~nfa/fsn/
University of Manitoba www.umanitoba.ca/afs/food_science
University of Maryland www.agnr.umd.edu/nfsc.
University of Massachusetts www.umass.edu/foodsci
McGill University www.mcgill.ca/foodscience
Instituto Technológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey www.mty.itesm.mx/dia/carreras/iia
Michigan State University www.msu.edu/unit/fshn
University of Minnesota http://fscn.che.umn.edu
Mississippi State University www.msstate.edu/dept/fsnhp
University of Missouri www.fse.missouri.edu/foodscience
University of Nebraska http://foodsci.unl.edu/
North Carolina State University http://fsweb2.schaub.ncsu.edu/foodscience
North Dakota State University www.ndsu.edu/ndsu/academic/factsheets/ag/foodsci.shtml
Ohio State University http://fst.osu.edu
Oregon State University http://osu.orst.edu/dept/foodsci
Pennsylvania State University www.foodscience.psu.edu
Rutgers University www.foodsci.rutgers.edu
San Jose State University www.sjsu.edu
University of Tennessee http://web.utk.edu/~foodsci
Texas A&M University www.ifse.tamu.edu
Tuskegee University http://www.tuskegee.edu/Global/story.asp?S=2517102
Utah State University www.usu.edu/nfs
Virginia Tech www.fst.vt.edu
Washington State University www.av.fshn.wsu.edu
University of Wisconsin–Madison www.wisc.edu/foodsci
by Richard W. Hartel, Ph.D, a Fellow and Professional Member of IFT, is Professor of Food Engineering, Dept. of Food Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706( [email protected] ).