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Innovative Stem Instructional Techniques to Increase the Number and Diversity of Students in Food Safety Related Majors

Investigators
Hegerfeld-Baker, Joan; Gleason, Jeanne; Chamberlain, B; Anand, Sanjeev
Institutions
South Dakota State University
Start date
2011
End date
2014
Objective

The overall goal of this project is to strengthen undergraduate instruction and help students understand key concepts in food safety and agricultural sciences; and, to fill a significant STEM gaps in pre-requisite knowledge mandatory for students to succeed in science- and math-intensive undergraduate programs. The Performance-Based Objectives increase the number and quality of graduates in food safety and agricultural science majors through the following:

1) Improving students' conceptual understanding of frequently misunderstood STEM content, and improving their pre-requisite skills needed to succeed in required undergraduate classes, thus enabling them to continue in additional classes;

2) Increasing students' confidence with content related to sciences that support the safety of the food supply and agricultural sciences; and

3) Influencing students' perception of themselves as competent with careers in food safety and agricultural sciences.

South Dakota State University (SDSU) and New Mexico State University (NMSU) will establish design teams to identify gaps and establish educational objectives to direct the creation of interactive multimedia electronic tools. Pedagogical experiences will also be made available to fill gaps within the electronic educational media component. Through the innovative digitally enhanced multimedia educational tools that include a pedagogical experience to use in formal and informal educational settings an increase number of ethnically diverse students will take more STEM related courses and choose STEM related majors, particularly those related to food safety and agricultural sciences. During the first year of this project educational objectives will be prioritized, and existing resources will be identified. Online learning resources will be identified that are relevant and peer-reviewed. During the second year of this project six to ten educational tools will be developed that are digitally enhanced and interactive. They will also include a real life application that incorporates a professional from a food safety or agricultural related field. Ethnically diverse demographics will be incorporated into the educational tools that are developed. A Food Safety and Agricultural Scientist web-portal will be published during the second year phase of the project. This will provide an opportunity for students and faculty to register and utilize the electronically supported curricula and contribute to the enhancement of the STEM skills that are applicable to food safety and agricultural careers. North Dakota State University will lead the evaluation of this project from the beginning. An initial evaluation plan identifies the questions that will need to be answered and the measurable outcomes that are integrated into the web-portal. NMSU and SDSU will use a formative evaluation plan to monitor the development of the electronic educational tools.

More information

NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY:
In order to retain students in food safety and agricultural science fields of study, we must change instruction in difficult science-related courses, and provide supplemental instruction in the pre-requisite knowledge so many undergraduates lack, while helping students better identify with practical applications of this knowledge outside the classroom and in potential careers. There is an even larger disconnect occurring among minority students, who by socioeconomic, cultural, and prior educational experiences, "may not possess the self-schemas to aspire to scientific careers or may not identify with teachers or scientists in ways that make them want to become scientists or see the connection of science to their lives" (Foster, 2008). Research shows that, for minority and low-income student groups, positive attitudes toward education can positively affect their college education. However, students struggling in science education are less confident in their abilities, making them less likely to aspire to scientific studies and careers (Gerardi, 2006). The investigators for this proposal from South Dakota State and New Mexico State Universities, leaders in key agricultural and educational technology areas, are dedicated to attracting, retaining and graduating highly trained students who are capable of enhancing the nation's food and agricultural scientific and professional workforce. This project builds on previous collaborative work between SDSU and NMSU to develop digital interactive virtual labs focusing on scientific techniques needed in STEM-related food safety courses. SDSU and NMSU will identify knowledge and application gaps needed for students to successfully choose courses, majors and careers in food safety and agricultural related career paths. Digital enhanced electronic educational tools that are fully interactive and integrate an application of food safety and agricultural professional careers will be developed to be a critical component of a web-portal for students and teachers to access for formal and informal educational settings. Producing outstanding, ethnically diverse students who will pursue and complete a postsecondary degree in the food, agricultural sciences, and graduates in science-intensive agricultural programs, particularly in food safety disciplines, is vital to our nation's capacity to improve and maintain the safety of our food supply.
APPROACH:
NMSU's Learning Games Lab uses the backward design approach focusing on what students need to know and an emphasis in helping students uncover ideas through learning. Key design questions define the expected understanding and designing activities that lead learners to perform expected outcomes such as a laboratory technique that is used by scientists to monitor the safety of the food supply. A master educational goal sheet will be developed that serves as a touchstone development tool throughout the project. This will integrate the objectives as a complete group and the educational tools will address these objectives. The educational tools will be a critical component of a web-portal that addresses the master educational goal sheet. NMSU will provide the leadership for the development of the educational tools, and SDSU will lead the web-portal development and maintenance. The evaluation of the project includes formative and outcome based evaluation. NMSU builds in formative evaluation and testing into the design and development of its interactive multimedia tools. NMSU conducts frequent formative testing with learners, teachers, and quality assurance experts so that products are reviewed weekly throughout the design process. For example, pencil sketches are reviewed for feedback by end users before animations and technical development occurs. Review tools are utilized throughout the entire process, examples include: focus groups, one-on-one discussions, blogs, video closets and working prototypes in classrooms. SDSU will utilize similar tools that assist in the development of the web-based food safety and agricultural scientists web-portal. The evaluation will be conducted by NDSU as an independent evaluator. The evaluation will reflect measurable outcomes and will be results-orientated. The project evaluation will address these questions: 1)What is the quality of each of these products related to rigor and understandable content linked to identified curriculum gaps, instructional/pedagogical design, and a fit for targeted learners (including ethnically diverse) 2) How do instructors and students use the products, and do they value their use 3) Do the products contribute to increased knowledge and confidence in the subject area for students 4) Does improved instruction, including the use of the products, increase the number and diversity of majors in the area, and increase the number and diversity of students who intend to go into graduate school and careers in the field The indicators measured will include the following: instructor and student module use log will include a rating for value and usefulness; improved student learning; increased student confidence; careers and majors that students choose; dissemination of materials on-line, the number of downloads and feedback, and civil service data. North Dakota State University (NDSU) will develop all evaluation tools working closely with NMSU and SDSU co-investigators.

PROGRESS: 2012/09 TO 2013/08
Target Audience: College, high school and middle school students in basic laboratory science couses as well as career and technical education courses in Family and Consumer Sciences and Agriculture Sciences. Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? Math and Science Teachers Conference reviewed and experienced the Food Safety Scientist Curriculum and Virtual Labs: 23 teachers Interactive Presentation for Food Safety Related Careers and Interactive Virtual Labs at South Dakota - Sioux Falls Area Women in Science Conference (8th grade girls): 90 students (16 Native American) and 28 adults (parents and teachers) Technical Innovation and Education Conference: Over 30 teachers experienced the Food Safety Scientist Curriculum and Interactive Virtual Labs. 17 Teachers signed up to receive the curriculum and training updates when curriculum is completed and published in 2014. Over 25 CD's with the curriculum draft were distributed. Workshops include hands-on training, access to curriculum as it is being developed, and laboratory kits to compliment the virtual labs. Minni-workshop with FACS teachers supervising student teachers - 6 teachers. Teacher Train-the-Trainer Workshop for FACS and Ag Teachers to use Food Safety Scientist Curriculum: 18 teachers Teachers (FACS and AG) participating in the Food Safety Scientist Workshops significantly (p < 0.05) increased their knowledge regarding the laboratory techniqus and science concepts that monitor the safety of hte food supply. They increased their familiarity of careers impacting the safety of the food supply, and participants identified they will use the food safety scientist curriculum in their educational setting. The teachers had hands-on kits to use in their classrooms. the use of the curriculum will be evaluated in 2014. The teachers identified the value of the various components of the Food Safety Scientist Curriculum as follows (scale of 1 to 5, 5 being exceptional): Quality of Virtual Labs (engaging for students, exposing students to food safety related careers, and usefulness in the classroom): 4.53 Power Point Presentations (ease of use): 4.11 Hands-on Activities (use in classroom) pH: sensational salsa company -- 4.35; acidifying egg yolks -- 3.71; Curds and whey -- 4.35 Aflatoxin (tesing for corn toxins) -- 4.26 Food Microbiology -- Raw vs Pasteurized Milk -- 4.35; Quick Swabs -- 4.53; Gram Staining -- 4.0; Oil immersion microscope* - 3.88 *Oil immersion microscope (OIM) is not available in many high school labs. However, the use of OIM is a struggle for many students in introductory microbiology classes in college. The teachers (58%) participating in the train-the-trainer workshop have requested additional supplies to conduct the hands-on versions of the virtual labs. Conversations with two 1994 Landgrants in South Dakota to incoproate the Food Safety Scientist Curriculum into their science courses. Progress continues to be made for potential workshops in 2014. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Proposals for presentations have been submitted to the SD Science and Math Teachers Conference 2014, and will also submit to the NACTA Conference 2014. Presentations provided through graduate student seminars and defense of dissertation. Connected with STEM Education based websites to promote the Virtual Labs as well as the Food Safety Scientis Curriculum. Currently, three of the virtual labs and lesson plans are now accessibile to students and teachers through Brainpop. Brainpop which is a website that has a collection of animation, games and interactive programs for educational purposes. They also create their own content. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Complete two more virtual labs incorporating the scientific concept of water activity related to the safety of food products. Scheduled to be completed by December 20, 1013. Evaluate all teachers that have been exposed to the Food Safety Scientist curriculum (including the virtual labs) since the inception of the grant and promote the final product. Conduct a Train-the-Trainer Food Safety Scientist Curriculum hybrid workshop using webinars and hands-on programs. The webinars will be four to six hours in total time, the hands-on components will be one day. And the teachers will be given the option of a one credit college course if they utilize food safety scientist curriculum in their classroom and write a report which includes an evaluation for the project. This is sceduled to be offered in Febrary through April of 2014. Develop short podcasts or other types of mobile access to components of the virtual labs (to be completed with NMSU). Develop and implement strategy to make the results of the project sustainable. Include connecting with STEM education based website to promote and link to the Food Safety Scientist website on iGrow. Publish research results from 2013 and 2014

PROGRESS: 2011/09/01 TO 2012/08/31
OUTPUTS: Two new virtual labs were created by South Dakota State University and New Mexico State University that incorporate the use of pH to monitor and maintain the safety of the food supply, and experience the role of a career in food science that develops food products with an extended shelf life based on pH and temperature. This will be posted on the SDSU Food Safety Scientist Blogsite http://foodsafetyscientist.blogspot.com/p/teachers.html, and New Mexico State Universities Learning Games Lab website. Presently they can be viewed at http://medios.nmsu.edu/vl2/AcidSalsa.php The Food Safety Scientist (FSS) Curriculum was modified and additional hands-on educational materials relating to pH of foods were added to the curriculum. The FSS curriculum was tested with teachers and students, and reviewed by faculty at SDSU. This has been made available to teachers across South Dakota that participated in a Food Safety Scientist Educators Workshop. After revisions are made, it will be posted on the Food Safety Scientist Blogsite. The Food Safety Scientist Workshop to 17 teachers in Pierre, SD, to utilize the virtual labs and FSS curriculum in their schools. Conducted in an area of the state where several teachers serve schools with a sizeable Native American Population. Presentations at the following conferences (presenting information on the FSS Curriculum and Virtual Labs): SD Association of Agriculture Teachers Conference (55 participants); Sanford Multi-state STEMWISE Conference (25 participants); SD Science and Math Teachers Conference (83 teachers); SD Women in Science Conference (over 200 8th grade girls, as well as teachers and volunteers); Growing SD Conference (175 participants). PARTICIPANTS: As the External Evaluator of the project, North Dakota State University (NDSU) utilized the evaluation questions from the grant proposal to create a rubric that provides quantitative and qualitative analysis of the products created from this project. Anita Welch, NDSU Assistant Professor, specializing in educational research, oversees the work of a North Dakota high school science teacher, Don Kenna - that is also a graduate student, to conduct the evaluation. Their analysis is proving to be very valuable as we move this project forward. In May of 2012, SDSU hosted a conference with NDSU and NMSU for this grant and a previous HEC grant that was in its final year. This time was used to provide professional development focusing on the K-12 framework for science education, inquiry based standards and evaluating science education. Dr. Anita Welch provided the presentation "Science/STEM Education Research" and led a discussion. Many teaching faculty members attended and the response was extremely favorable. Dr. Jeanne Gleason from NMSU provided a presentation titled: Educational Interactive Computer Technology. The information provided by Dr. Welch and Dr. Gleason, along with updates from Project Investigators, Dr. Charlene Wolf Hall and Joan Hegerfeld-Baker were used to strategize, define partnerships and priorities as we move forward. The development of the virtual labs requires many people contributing their expertise and talents. The list of credits at the conclusion of each virtual lab is rather lengthy. It includes the following categories of people needed to obtain the final product: Principal Investigators; Content Contributors and Advisors; Project Coordinators; Executive Producer; Instructional Designer; NMSU Interactive Module Team (Project Manager, Project Lead, Programming, Art Director and Artist, Script Editing, Voice Talent, Audio Engineering, Technical Support, Instructional Design Team, Web Development Team, Web Writing Support, Studio Support), Content Reviewers. The entire team consists of approximately 50 different people providing their insight and expertise. The acknowledgements for each virtual lab state the following: South Dakota State University (SDSU) and New Mexico State University (NMSU) produced this project as part of a USDA NIFA Higher Education Challenge Grant "Innovation STEM instructional techniques to increase the number and diversity of students in food safety related majors" (No. 2011-38411-30625). SDSU serves as the lead institution for the overall project as well as creating the virtual lab content and development of supporting educational materials. NMSU is leading the digital creation of classroom media, animations and interactive educational technologies. North Dakota State University is serving as the external evaluator of the project. TARGET AUDIENCES: Target Audiences include the following: High School and Introductory Level College Courses. The Virtual Labs are being used in the General Microbiology Course at SDSU if they are learning a new technique such as gram staining or using a microscope. High school teachers are being exposed to the Virtual Labs and Food Safety Scientist Curriculum at various conferences and workshops (as reported in the output section of this report). Reaching out to minorities -- working with teachers that serve minority schools, particularly Native American populations. Having a presence (usually through a hands-on exhibit booth) at conference where students are exposed to various careers in STEM. The Women in Science program in Sioux Falls, SD brings in over 200 8th grade girls. We have one-on-one interaction with the girls. Approximately 50% of the youth are of racial and ethnic minorities and come from schools that serve over 50% low income families. Several SDSU Extension field staff and graduate students work with Joan Hegerfeld-Baker on this project to allow for one-on-one interaction. Several computers are set up, along with hands-on opportunities. This is always a very popular exhibit, and also an opportunity to connect with teachers to use the virtual labs and curriculum. Post workshop surveys have been carried out to measure knowledge gained, potential for reaching minority students, and utilization of the educational tools created with this project. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
SDE-2011-01840
Accession number
225982
Categories
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants
Mycotoxins
Commodities
Eggs