FOOD, NUTRITION, CULINARY, AND PACKAGING SCIENCE UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH, EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING, AND PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT FOCUSING ON CHILDHOOD NUTRITION
The objective of this research project was to develop a two-semester Applied Interdisciplinary Product Development (AIPD) course for sophomore students in the Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Science (FNPS) department that would increase students’ confidence in skills pertaining to product development of food products and childhood nutrition, increase their sense of connection with the department, and would better prepare them to enter industry than students that did not participate in the course. A Subject Knowledge Assessment (SKA) was used to evaluate the mean difference value (MDV) of food science, nutrition, packaging science, and general product development knowledge gained through the AIPD course. An Exit Questionnaire (EQ) was used to evaluate attitudes pertaining to product development knowledge and skills, pedagogy, department engagement, and industry readiness. The Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) evaluates a student’s level of importance and resultant satisfaction with various aspects of their college or university experience. For this research study, the SSI was used to evaluate responses of the treatment group before and after the AIPD course. SKA results indicated that the MDV were significantly different between the treatment and control groups in the overall score and in every subject score area except packaging science. EQ quantitative results indicated that mean scores between the treatment and control groups were significantly different in seven of the nine statements pertaining to product development knowledge and skills, both statements pertaining to pedagogy, and the statement pertaining to department engagement. EQ qualitative results indicated that the response to working in interdisciplinary teams was exceptionally positive. Students embraced the two-semester course format and experiential learning elements. Some students commented on the desire for more structure, greater clarity in objectives, and well-defined deadlines. For the SSI, the level of satisfaction of the item “The instruction in my major field is excellent.” was significantly lower in the post-response of the treatment group than the pre-response. Overall, the research project was considered a successful intervention for engaging sophomores, increasing students’ confidence in skills pertaining to product development of food products and childhood nutrition, increasing engagement with the FNPS department, increasing industry readiness of students for internships and co-ops.