Innovative STEM Instructional Techniques: Increasing the number and diversity of food safety majors Back »

Written by Joan Hegerfeld-Baker (former SDSU Extension Food Safety Specialist).


Executive Summary

Most students, especially under-represented students, consistently struggle with key scientific and math concepts used in science-intensive agricultural courses, due largely to a lack of conceptual understanding in pre-requisite STEM skills. This deficiency deters under-represented students from completing coursework in science- and math-intensive agricultural majors, thus decreasing the number of potential graduates in these fields.

This proposal seeks to assist students in understanding science and math concepts that frequently deter many from continuing food and agricultural science-based majors. Based on a successful design model established with NSF funding at NMSU, and previous USDA HEC funding with SDSU/NMSU investigators, the team will create educational multimedia tools, including animations and mini-games, to supplement instruction. The team will refine educational objectives based on needs of core food safety and ag science courses, and develop innovative media proven effective with this target group to enhance science and math conceptual understanding. The multimedia products will be integrated into coursework, with empirical measures of test results and instructors’ recommendations on future use. Students exposed to the educational materials should have greater success with key STEM test items, feel greater confidence in their skills at the end of the semester, and feel more confident about the likelihood of entering science-intensive ag careers. Instructors should feel their students are better prepared for instruction and better at applying.

Private and Public Value Statement

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. 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.

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