Science of Food Fermentation : Development of a University Curriculum and Outreach Educational Materials
Author(s)Bauer, Laura M.
Full recordShow full item record
AbstractIncludes bibliographical references.
While food and beverage fermentation is rooted in thousands of years of global traditions, today it is experiencing a revitalization by consumers interested in the health benefits and organoleptic qualities. A research-based, learner-centered, introductory-level, undergraduate academic curriculum was developed to address the need for understanding biochemical processes related to fermented food and developing critical thinking skills. Course findings, supporting research, and demand from consumers and outreach educators, guided complementary outreach materials development on related fermentation topics. The curriculum for FTEC 210, Science of Food Fermentation, was designed, implemented, and evaluated for outcomes in Year 1 (n=15) and Year 2 (n=22). The course focused on science, history, culture, gastronomy, safety, health, and nutrition aspects of fermented foods and beverages, while addressing core food science competencies in food chemistry, microbiology, food processing, and applied food science. Curriculum development was designed around students’ initial knowledge level, and then gaps were addressed for deeper understanding. Learning events alternated between direct instruction and experiential learning to engage diverse undergraduate learners in problem solving and application and inspire cognitive growth through evaluation and creation. Student change in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors was assessed via pre-course and post-course questionnaires compared to a control group. Qualitative interviews, conducted mid-semester in Year 1, and course survey comments from Years 1 and 2, clarified quantitative data and provided feedback on curriculum usefulness and course satisfaction. Areas of analysis included demographics and grades, for reflection on student comprehension, content delivery, and assessments. Complementary teaching materials requested by and created for Extension educators and consumer use included an online training, a hands-on workshop, and related outreach publications. Students enrolled in FTEC 210 significantly increased knowledge from pre to post course (P<.0001), and their mean increase in knowledge was significant in comparison to the control group (P<.005). All students reported increased consumption of fermented food and drinks, and indicated active learning, in laboratory exercises, furthered opportunities for positive impacts on their education including self-studies and home practices. Curriculum content and informal hands-on student yogurt variation trials led to outreach publication development. Outreach trainings integrated experiential learning with research-based information to nurture retention and confidence. Requests from the public health community for the dissemination of credible fermentation information continues to guide fermentation outreach material development beyond the scope of this project. In this mixed methods study, results showed the curriculum had impact and relevance for cognitive development of university students and food knowledge application across disciplines, including integration of cultural diversity education and incorporation of biochemical processes. The use of experiential learning in course design enabled students to construct new knowledge through integrating base knowledge from lecture, collective interaction with lab partners, and hands-on learning practices in this course. This food fermentation curriculum met academic demands, increased student understanding and confidence, and supported material development for outreach dissemination.