The Institute of Food Technologists’ (IFT) success skills highlight the importance of developing professional skills in the food science curriculum. On the other hand, many students in higher education report that the public school system feels disconnected and unrelated to their future. In this context, this study aimed to evaluate student's perceived importance of professional skills, as well as to enhance their awareness and confidence in them. Students in a sensory science class at the University of Illinois completed a questionnaire at the beginning, middle, and end of the semester to assess their opinion of and self-assurance in professional skills, such as writing technical reports, providing leadership, making formal presentations, and applying critical thinking. During the semester, students received basic training and guidelines on each skill and were given assignments and activities to practice them as part of their coursework. Results showed increased knowledge about the existence of IFT core competencies, as well as an increased motivation to practice success skills regularly. They also showed an increased perceived importance of presentation skills, leadership, dealing with group conflict, researching scientific information, and library resources. Confidence in 80% of the skills increased significantly by the end of the semester, after students had been presented with opportunities to practice and discuss the skills in groups. Students were also able to relate their learning of specific success skills to different course assignments. This study concluded that a general exposure to the importance of practicing professional skills in a college setting enhanced student's experiences and awareness by connecting them to their future professional careers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science