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College of Natural Sciences

BS in Nutrition and Food Sciences

Assessment Summary Update

In general the assessment of the BS degree in Nutrition and Food Sciences (NFSC) has two levels of assessment, direct and indirect assessment. Direct assessment involves evaluation of assignments in courses (see curriculum matrix and additional assignments as determined by the department faculty) and indirect assessment involves analysis of surveys administered to graduating seniors and alumni 18 to 20 months after graduation. Each year faculty identify one specific SLO or content area to assess. A summary of assessment results and actions is provided below.

2012-13

The primary assessment project was to evaluate "that student are able to orally communicate effectively with clients, employees, and/or stakeholders." An oral presentation rubric was developed to assess oral communication. A random sample of 20-30 minute video-taped group presentations (5 groups of 4 students each) from the NFSC 365, Nutrition Counseling and Education course were evaluated by two faculty. Overall, students scored between 2.3 and 2.5 out of a 4-point rubric (AACU rubric; 1 = benchmark to 4 = capstone). The five oral communication areas of evaluation include organization, language, delivery, supporting material, and central message. Students scored slightly higher in language and central message than in organization, delivery and supporting material. There were no noticeable consistent inadequacies. NFSC faculty met and discussed the findings of the oral presentation assessment and decided to provide opportunities within courses for students to self-critique their oral presentation skills. By incorporating a self-critique style of grading, students will become more aware of their personal areas for growth.

Faculty discussed the findings from indirect assessment and recommended the following actions.

  • Change the scheme for academic advising from assigning faculty advisors based on the first letter of a student's last name to assigning advisors based on students' career goals. The Department now has advisors for those wishing to pursue the registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN) credential, those wishing to pursue careers in nutrition management and those who wish to pursue careers in food and nutrition communication.
  • The option in Foodservice Administration was revised and updated to an option in Nutrition Management in order to prepare students for careers in school nutrition and healthcare nutrition management (Dietary Supervisor).
  • Students reported that the areas that needed improvement in the program were additional curriculum in public policy and feedback from Dietetic Internship directors said that some of our student lack skills in professionalism. Curriculum will be enhanced in public policy and a new assignment will be added to both NFSC 455 and 457 that allows students to practice and receive feedback on professional interviewing and email communication.

2013-14

The primary assessment project was to evaluate "that students are able to orally communicate effectively with clients, employees, and/or stakeholders" with the specific focus on professionalism in oral communication. Students in the dietetics option and enrolled in NFSC 457 completed mock dietetic internship interviews as part of a course assignment. Students in our food and nutrition communication option and nutrition management option were encouraged to also complete mock interviews, but this was not a requirement for a course (only 3 participated). Mock interviews were conducted by the Department's administrative support coordinator with 46 students. Students were rated on a scale from 1 to 3 with 3 being highest and 1 being lowest on the following six interviewing categories: 1) email etiquette, 2) appearance, 3) communication style, 4) interview skills, 5) questioning, and 6) politeness. Scores were fairly consistent across all categories ranging from 2.6 to 2.9 on the 3-point scale. The most common suggestions for improvement were provide more concrete examples, or expand answers to interview questions; increase eye contact with interviewee; improve email etiquette and remember to send a thank you email following the interview; and prepare and rehearse elevator speech. NFSC faculty met and discussed the findings of the mock interview assessment and decided to continue to require this activity as an assignment in NFSC 457. The instructor of NFSC 455 will look into recruiting representatives from industry to create a mock interview panel for students in the Food and Nutrition Communication and Nutrition Management options. In addition, lectures on the topic of job interviews will be enhanced. While overall, interview skills were high, faculty agreed that this is an important skill and worthy of continued focus in career courses.

Faculty discussed the findings from indirect assessment and recommended the following actions.

  • As a result of our low response rate on alumni surveys, a new system was devised to maintain contact with alumni which includes collecting a primary and secondary email from all students in their last year. We will continue to use our Facebook alumni pages for recruitment efforts. LinkedIn will also be explored as an option for contacting students to request participation in taking alumni surveys.
  • Students in the dietetics option felt a more rigorous Medical Nutrition Therapy II curriculum was needed. Faculty discussed hiring a practicing clinical dietitian to teach NFSC 471. A practicing clinical dietitian has a better grasp of the information the student needs to learn to be competent in a hospital setting. Strategies were discussed to make the curriculum more rigorous such as case study quizzes that involve more critical thinking.

2014-15

The primary assessment project was to evaluate students' ability to "evaluate and interpret scholarly literature." The students (n=67) in a foundation level undergraduate course (NFSC 340- Human Nutrition) completed two quizzes that were designed to assess their ability to analyze and interpret scientific literature. One measured the students' ability to distinguish between dependent and independent variables; the second measured students' ability to distinguish between observational and experimental design. The pre-test occurred in early September. The students were required to read about research design, variables and statistics before taking the quiz. The post-test occurred in mid-December. The students were not required to review the learning module on research before taking the post quiz. There was no significant change in quiz scores over the semester. Faculty discussed findings and concluded that students could use more training in this area. Plans to enhance student understanding of research and interpreting scientific literature include creating a series of video modules to accompany the written description students were previously referring to on interpreting research articles. If students are able to view video modules instead of just reading a handout, students may feel more engaged in the material.

Faculty discussed the findings from indirect assessment and recommended the following actions.

  • We continue to have issues with a low response rate on exit surveys for students in our Food and Nutrition Communication (FNC) and Nutrition Management options. Thus students will be asked to take the exit survey as a requirement for the NFSC 455 course in the spring even though some students will still have one more semester to complete the degree.
  • Students in the options of FNC and Nutrition Management felt not enough information was provided about possible career options. In response academic advisors for students in FNC and Nutrition Management will educate students in these two options on potential careers available to them. In addition strategies for landing positions in these areas will be expanded in our career courses, NFSC 155 and 455. Students will also be encouraged to utilize the resources at the career center.
  • For the past several annual assessment reports students in the option in FNC felt the required CDES 101 course did not meet their needs thus Department had some students substitute CMST 233 or 235 in its place. Students reported on exit surveys much more satisfaction with these courses. The Department made minor curricular changes to the option in FNC which will be official in 2016-17.
  • Provide additional learning activities within undergraduate courses to enhance students' knowledge and skills in understanding and interpreting scientific literature.

2015-16

Over the course of discussions of curriculum in 2014-15, faculty felt students in the options in general dietetics and nutrition management needed more skills in the area of financial management. Thus, the primary assessment project was to evaluate students' abilities in "financial management as it relates to careers in nutrition and foodservice management." More specifically, the faculty want to ensure that students have the ability to create and interpret budget and financial statements as it relates to managing nutrition and foodservice operations. Fifty-four students enrolled over the year in NFSC 230 - Introduction to Foodservice Administration had an operating budget and payroll assignment and a personal budgeting assignment reviewed. The operating budget assignment assesses the ability to identify budget categories and line items, and introduces students to creating Excel formulas for simple mathematical calculations. Analysis of these two assignments revealed that students expressed greater competency on their operating budget assignment as compared to their personal budget assignment. This difference was a result of the students not being clear of the categories of a personal budget and what line items fit under each category. They were unsure where to place their own revenues and expenses. To improve knowledge and understanding of managing a budget, the instructor plans to review the categories of a budget in more detail. The instructor plans to have students go through a mock personal budget, which will give students a much clearer idea of where to place their own budget items.

Faculty discussed the findings from indirect assessment and recommended the following actions.

  • For the past few annual reviews students in the options in FNC and nutrition management perceive that faculty focus more attention on the students in the option in dietetics. To address this issue, we changed our academic advising scheme in 2013-14; we will be more inclusive in inviting guest speakers who have careers outside of dietetics in the NFSC 155 course; and we will provide additional career examples for job opportunities outside of dietetics in courses.
  • Students perceived content redundancy in NFSC 360 and NFSC 468 and the three courses in foodservice administration. Instructors of these courses will meet to discuss content area to avoid areas of repeated content.

2016-17

The primary assessment project was to evaluate student's ability to "present an educational session to a group, considering the needs of the target audience." This was assessed by collecting a sample of nutrition education intervention videos from NFSC 365 – Nutrition Counseling and Education that represent a variety of skills and abilities. These videos were viewed by 2 faculty members and a rubric (1=low to 4 =high) was used to evaluate organization, mechanics, delivery, and relating to the audience. Four groups of 3-4 students were selected for the assessment by the instructor that represented a variety of oral presentation abilities. In groups, they were asked to present a 30-minute intervention for college students with the goal of increasing fruit and vegetable intake. The four groups consisted of a mixture of graduate and undergraduate students in a nutrition counseling and education course.

The results were as follows (all on a 4-point scale where 1=low and 4=high):

  • Scores for organization: Reviewer 1: 3; Reviewer 2: 3.25
  • Scores for mechanics: Reviewer 1: 2.5; Reviewer 2: 2.5
  • Scores for delivery: Reviewer 1: 2.62; Reviewer 2: 3
  • Scores for relating to audience: Reviewer 1: 3.12; Reviewer 2: 2.87

Overall, students kept the audience engaged and made the material relatable to their target audience. The presentations were also well organized. Students scored lowest on mechanics. Reviewers said that the PowerPoint slides often had too much content, small font, or were too busy. Faculty met and discussed the findings and concluded that overall, students need to work on design and layout with PowerPoint slides, following the motto of "less is more."

Faculty discussed the findings from indirect assessment and recommended the following actions.

  • For the primary assessment project JH shared an on-line video to be included with public speaking assignments with an emphasis on how to create effective slides. This will be part of instructions for oral assignments.
  • Other action items based on indirect assessment include
    • Continue to provide more attention to students in FNC and nutrition management for career advising by offering additional group advising sessions for students; JH and MG will work on a career bulletin board for those in FNC.
    • Improve curriculum in areas of dietary supplements and functional foods and public policy by adding integrative and functional nutrition topics to NFSC 345 and a lecture/assignment on advocacy to NFSC 465
    • Freshman and those new to the major are now advised to take NFSC 100 Basic Nutrition
    • Instructors of NFSC 230/430/431 will meet in the spring 2018 to discuss redundancy in topics covered in these courses.