FST 100A Outcome

A. Specific Learning Outcomes. At the end of this course, students will be able to

  • Recognize, distinguish and describe the molecular structures and properties of major food components.
  • Relate molecular structure to properties of compounds found in food.
  • Analyze and predict how the composition and conditions within a food influence the functional properties of food molecules.
  • Describe major food chemical reactions and their mechanisms.
  • Relate key chemical groups on food molecules to their role in common reaction mechanisms of importance in foods.
  • Analyze and predict how the composition of foods with regard to carbohydrates, lipids, protein and water influence their stability.
  • Examine and assess implications for food formulations for achieving objectives of food quality and palatability, cost and healthfulness.
  • Analyze and interpret the role of food chemistry in practical food situations.
  • Assess and evaluate the implications of food chemistry principles for current topics of importance in the food industry and for consumers.
  • Orally explain, describe, question and defend ideas based on food chemistry in informal discussion.

How this course addresses IFT Core Competencies:
FST 100A is a 4-unit lecture and discussion course in food chemistry, taught at the junior level. It builds on principles taught in organic chemistry and molecular biology to

  • meet the core competencies in the Chemistry section related to the (1) structure and properties of food components, and (2) knowledge of the chemistry underlying the properties and reactions of various food components;
  • partly address competencies in Engineering/Processing related to the characteristics of raw food material, effects of low and high temperature processes, thermodynamics, and water activity;
  • partly address competencies in Applied Food Science, in which food chemistry principles are applied to practical situations, including how to control the quality of food products, and to increase awareness of current topics of importance to the food industry and to consumers;
  • partly address Success Skills by requiring practice of oral communication skills at an informal level in discussion section.

B. Tools used to assess program outcomes.

Bloom's levels I-VI.
In FST 100A, there are five ways that assessments are used to provide feedback on course effectiveness, to enable on-going improvement of the course:

  • Discussion sections are used in part to review materials that students find confusing in lecture, and communication between the instructors for the discussion sections and the faculty in charge of the course allow us to identify topics students find most challenging. We then focus more heavily on difficult topics, or change the way those topics are presented. Questions asked during and at the end of lecture provide a similar immediate assessment tool.
  • After each exam, we obtain reports from the teaching resource center giving the percentage of students who missed each multiple choice question, as well as the performance of top and bottom quartile students on each question. These reports are used to find questions with low success rates (< 55% correct responses), combined with a low point biserial coefficients (< 0.35). The latter shows the positive correlation between students who performed well on the exam overall and their correct response to the question at hand. Since multiple choice questions are keyed to specific lecture topics, the two metrics together allow us to assess material that students are struggling with, and to develop improvement strategies for teaching.
  • Exams also include short answer questions. The professor in charge meets with the grader after each exam to discuss what questions were challenging for the students and what incorrect concepts were evident in their answers. This information guides presentation of that material during later review and in subsequent years of teaching the course. The professor in charge occasionally helps with grading of the short answers for the final exam to obtain similar feedback.
  • Discussion section instructors mark points (0 or 1) for each student, based on their active participation in discussion that week. The goal is that >90% of the students will receive a positive mark for two-thirds or more of the discussion sections.
  • Course evaluations are used to assess the effectiveness in meeting course objectives. Numerical scores using a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) for specific questions are compiled, with separate evaluation questions for the course and the instructor. For FST100A, answers to specific questions where mean scores fall below 4.0 are identified as areas needing improvement. Students are also asked to provide comments and suggestions for course and instructor improvement. These are read carefully with the aim of improving elements of the course content and delivery.

C. Brief summary of assessment results to date.

  • Assessments of FST100A for the last three years indicate that instruction is effective in achieving the course goals. Student evaluation metrics have been between 4.2 and 4.7 for most items, with no clear trend year-to-year. Average scores for the overall quality of the course were 4.5, 4.3 and 4.3 for Fall 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively, and for the overall quality of the instructor the scores were 4.6, 4.3 and 4.5 for the same three years. Average test scores for the class have also been very steady and in the 65-75% range over these three years. 95% or more of students in discussion received credit for participation in two- thirds or more of their class discussions over this period. This steady and strong performance indicated in the assessment tools is encouraging, given that in the same time period the course enrollment has increased ~20% (from 231 in 2011 to 276 in 2013).
  • One item assessed in student evaluations has received decreasing scores from 2011 to 2013, and last fall received 3.9 as an average score. This item assessed whether "there is sufficient time in class for questions and discussion." In my judgment, the increasing enrollment of the course has created a challenge in this area. Students are eager to ask questions during lecture, which helps clarify concepts, expand on examples, and engage the students more actively in the material. However, with such a large number of students the number of questions has been slowing the pace of instruction, preventing us from covering some material, and frustrating some of the stronger students who do not need as much clarification/review. I am currently considering strategies for improving this situation, such as deferring certain questions to discussion section (and making sure there is a record of these questions), and assigning some curiosity questions to be addressed at our course website through class crowd-sourcing. These tools may help to reduce the lecture time in Q&A to a more appropriate level.
  • Lecture time has also been increasingly impacted by administrative issues, especially issues related to students trying to get into the class, and my efforts to stretch resources (classroom space, number of sections) to accommodate as many students as possible at the beginning of the quarter. This issue needs to be addressed at the campus level.
  • The challenges of meeting the needs of a diverse class of students become greater as the class grows in size, and this also likely affects the balance of lecture and question time needed. Next fall I am requiring a new textbook, which for the first time aligns well with my lecture material. This will hopefully provide extra support for students who struggle more with the material.
  • I plan to continue a process of shifting to increased writing on the board with less reliance on Powerpoint summaries, and using Powerpoint slides instead largely for graphics. Based on student comments and my own experience, this creates a more active lecture experience and facilitates the continuous updating of course content, which is very important to our course objectives.