Date of Award

8-2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Food, Nutrition, and Culinary Science

Advisor

Condrasky, Margaret

Committee Member

Coffee , Aubrey

Committee Member

sharp , Julia

Abstract

Satisfying the market needs for new food products is a challenge that every food processing company faces as consumers have diversified into many groups and necessities. Higher education institutions confront the same challenge in order to deliver
the precise knowledge and skills to prepare students to undertake the challenge of being integrated to industry as new product developers.
Industry and academia were surveyed and responses were used to compare their opinions about the importance of competencies currently taught in product development courses, and their relevance to the process. Fisher's Exact Test was used to compare the
distribution of the survey's responses in each category and responses were ranked using a Likert scale. Comments from both groups were used to suggest competencies (learning outcomes) that need to be emphasized or improved in the current universities' curricula. During one semester, eight diverse students of a product development class were observed and their performance in the competency or focus areas that had previously been assessed in the survey portion of the study. Toward the end point of the course,
students' opinions about their learning experience and how confident they felt in their project work related to the competency listing that emerged from the survey data were assessed through a focus group conversation. This data was then compared to the field
notes from the observed performances of these students by the researcher recorded during the one semester course.
Fisher's Exact test (Chi-Square =5.6985 , P-value=0.0212)suggest that distribution of the opinions of both industry and academia are not different except for competency number three in question four for both surveys (Assessment of consumers preferences) at α=0.05. Distributions for these responses in this competency are
different. Competencies (learning outcomes) that have been recommended for inclusion for graduate who will work in the product development arena are: ability to formulate for
large scale production and perform statistical calculations, understanding of project management, ability to apply experimental design, understanding flavor and ingredients applications and interactions, knowledge of processing and packaging, ability to foresee trends and consumers' needs, knowledge of culinary skills and ethnic cuisines, ability to relate to others inside and outside the company (this includes communication skills such as listening, ability to sell an idea, writing and skills to address and audience), and understanding cost and pricing. The researcher direct observations suggest that undergraduate students perform with greater confidence when lectures are combined with practical experience. It was noted that students had a hard time connecting each individual step of the new product development process with the comprehension of the importance of each stage in attaining the reference goals of new product development. Students' opinions indicate they believe new methodologies would enhance their
approach to their learning process. Thus more hands-on application of the activities within each stage gate process and gate could enhance their confidence in the current course learning objectives as well as in the focus areas in product development(competencies) recommended though the surveys administered to the industry and academic professionals during this study.

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