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NDFS Assessment

Mission Statement

The mission of the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Sciences (NDFS) is to enhance the quality of life and well being of our constituents in Utah, the nation, and internationally through our programs in education, research, and Extension. This mission reinforces those of our College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences and Utah State University.

The teaching goal of the NDFS department is to develop within our students the knowledge and skills required to be productive and advance in their professional field of endeavor. Our education programs include both specialized and liberal studies that lead to satisfying professional careers and life enrichment. The NDFS department is a diverse science-based department with teaching emphases in Nutrition Science, Food Science, and Dietetics. The affiliation of nutrition science and food science is advantageous given the interrelationships of nutrition, food, and human health. The dietetics program directly applies these core disciplines to issues of individual and public health.

The research goal of the NDFS department is scientific discovery that benefits the people of Utah, the nation, and the world. Research areas of emphasis include molecular and cellular nutrition, public health nutrition and epidemiology, microbiology and food safety, dairy and muscle foods processing, and dietetics administration.

The outreach and extension goal of the NDFS department is to disseminate and apply scientific knowledge in nutrition and food sciences to the people of Utah and the nation. Key areas of outreach reflect the department’s scientific expertise and include nutrition education, food safety, and dairy and meat processing.

The NDFS department fosters equal opportunities for women and minority students and faculty, and welcomes foreign and domestic students and visiting professors. We endeavor for a work environment characterized by collegiality and respect for individuals and ideas.

Undergraduate Assessment

Assessment Plan

The department's undergraduate assessment efforts are targeted toward continuous implementation of improvements that ensure all graduating students have the knowledge and skills required to be productive and advance in their professional field of endeavor. Outcomes data is collected that provides feedback on students’ achievement relative to program learning objectives. The outcomes data is reviewed by program committees comprised of the department’s faculty members leading to data-based decisions that ensure the learning objectives are being met. Program committees meet regularly throughout the academic year, and an in-service day is the held at the end of spring semester to finalize plans for putting the data-based decisions into practice.

Outcomes Data

The NDFS department employs a variety of tools to collect feedback on its undergraduate programs:

  • Students’ ratings on each course and its instructor are collected on every course using the IDEA survey. Feedback includes progress towards achieving the learning outcomes for the course and the effectiveness of the instructor. The syllabus for each course maps the specific learning outcomes for the course to the learning objectives defined in the IDEA survey to facilitate interpretation of IDEA feedback on a course-by-course basis. A variety of tools are used to develop summary information on courses across the department.
  • Assignments are imbedded in pertinent courses to assess students’ progress towards meeting program competencies. The department’s programs are competency-based towards providing the skills needed for our graduates to be successful in their profession. The skills and competencies are mapped to courses that contribute to development of the specific skills and competencies.
  • Department programs are accredited/approved by professional organizations. The Coordinated Program in Dietetics and the Didactic Program in Dietetics are each separately accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The Food Science Program is approved by the Higher Education Review Board of the Institute of Food Technologists. Ongoing assessment and reporting of data-based decisions are key components for continuing accreditation and approval.
  • Graduate placement and licensure data.
  • Data and Input from Student Services for the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. The department undergraduate student advisor meets regularly with program committees and provides feedback to keep the departments degree plans up-to-date and workable for students.
  • Student surveys, focus groups, and exit interviews. Student assessment of our program is vital and offers unique perspectives to aid in making data-based decisions.
  • Alumni Surveys. Periodically, the department solicits information from its alumni regarding current undergraduate degree requirements. The alumni are asked to address such things as:
    • Comment on the importance of topic areas and courses
    • Indicate which topics or courses have assisted them most in their careers
    • Indicate which courses they wished they would have taken or which we should require
    • Recommend specialized software that we should be using with students to prepare them for using computers in their professional activities.

Data-Based Decisions

Yearly reports of data-based decisions (including summary of the data upon which the decisions (including summary of the data upon which the decision was made) are developed by program committees after the department’s annual spring in-service day and/or reports to accrediting agencies.

Nutrition Science Coordinated Program in Dietetics Didactic Program in Dietetics Food Science 
2016 Report 2016 Report 2016 Report 2016 Report
2015 Report 2015 Report 2015 Report 2015 Report 
      2014 Report

 

Graduate Assessment

Degrees

The department offers four graduate degrees:
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Nutrition and Food Sciences (Plan A)

    This is a traditional research-based degree program. Students are admitted only after they are accepted into, and funded by, the research program of an individual faculty member. Students must author a publication for acceptance into the doctoral program. Course work follows a plan of study developed in conjunction with their major professor and graduate committee. The plan of study must meet the core requirements of the department and graduate school and will also include courses pertinent to the student’s research project and later career goals. Students must demonstrate a mastery of course materials by passing a comprehensive examination given by their supervisory committee. They must also successfully defend their research as a significant original contribution to knowledge conducted in an ethical manner.

  • Masters of Science in Nutrition and Food Sciences (Plan A)

    This is a traditional research-based degree program. Students are admitted only after they are accepted into, and funded by, the research program of an individual faculty member. Course work follows a plan of study developed in conjunction with their major professor and graduate committee. The plan of study must meet the core requirements of the department and graduate school and will also include courses pertinent to the student’s research project and later career goals. Students must demonstrate a mastery of course materials to their supervisory committee during defense of their research conducted in an ethical manner.

  • Master of Dietetic Administration (MDA) (Plan B or C)

    This program is targeted to students who have completed the USU Dietetics Internship (DI), a post BS certificate program that qualifies students to take the professional examination to become a registered dietician. Students who have completed the DI can complete the MDA in 18 additional credits taken over a year.
  • Master of Food Safety and Quality (MFSQ) (Plan B or C)

    This program is targeted to students interested in gaining further expertise in food safety and quality. Many of the required courses can be taken online or as independent-driven experiential learning to accommodate students who may already be in the workplace.

Assessment Plan

Graduate education is characterized by expectations that include mastery of subject material greater than typically associated with undergraduate education. The MS and PhD degrees have additional expectations for original research and scholarly activity conducted in an ethical manner. The learning objectives allied with each degree are described following this outline of our assessment plan.

Mastery of subject material by individual students in the MS and PhD programs is assessed by their supervisory committee following standard procedures required by the graduate school and department. The learning objectives for students in these research-based programs are established through a plan of study for each student and approved by their supervisory committee. The committees hold annual evaluations of graduate students to assess student progress in the program and their plan of study. These annual meetings are followed up with a report prepared by a member of the supervisory committee other than the major professor. The report addresses student progress toward degree completion and include recommendations given by the committee. The report is sent to the student and copied to the major professor and all members of the supervisory committee. A copy of the report is placed in the student’s file in the department. For doctoral students, competencies related to their plan of study are assessed during a comprehensive examination conducted by the supervisory committee. Final assessment of student competencies occurs during the defense of their thesis or dissertation, which is a reflection of how well the program has prepared the student to conduct research and think critically.

The department also collects outcomes data that provides feedback reflecting the overall performance of our programs on a holistic basis to augment the assessments of individual student learning provided by supervisory committees. This outcomes data is reviewed by the graduate program committee comprised of the department’s graduate faculty members leading to data-based decisions that ensure overall program objectives are being met. The graduate program committee meets regularly throughout the academic year, and an in-service day is the held at the end of spring semester to finalize plans for putting the data-based decisions into practice.

Learning Objectives

MS and PhD

The learning objectives for students in these research-based programs are established through a plan of study for each student and approved by their supervisory committee. The plan of study includes foundational courses in biochemistry and statistics and requires additional graduate level courses from NDFS and other departments leading to the specialized learning required for completion of the students research and consistent with a graduate degree in the field. Credit, course and other degree requirements can be accessed here.

As a result of successfully completing the requirements toward the PhD degree, students shall:
  • Demonstrate mastery of subject material.
  • Produce, present and defend an original significant contribution to knowledge.
  • Be able to conduct scholarly activities in an ethical manner.
As a result of successfully completing the requirements toward the MS degree, students shall:
  • Demonstrate mastery of subject material.
  • Conduct, present, and defend a body of research conducted during their program.
  • Be able to conduct scholarly activities in an ethical manner.

MDA

Students will gain the knowledge needed for careers in dietetics administration through a program of required and elective coursework tailored to each student’s educational goals. The Plan B option will require the production of a paper or creative work reflecting equivalent scholarship standards as a master’s thesis. Credit, course and other degree requirements can be accessed here.

As a result of successfully completing the requirements toward the MDA degree, students will have an understanding of dietetics administration beyond that typically associated with an undergraduate degree, thereby preparing them to reach their personal and professional goals.

MFSQ

Students will gain the knowledge needed for careers in food safety and food quality through a program of required and elective coursework tailored to the students educational goals. The Plan B option will require the production of a paper or creative work reflecting equivalent scholarship standards as a master’s thesis. Credit, course and other degree requirements can be accessed here.

As a result of successfully completing the requirements toward the MFSQ degree, students will have an understanding of food safety and quality beyond that typically associated with an undergraduate degree, thereby preparing them to reach their personal and professional goals.

Outcomes Data

Mastery of subject material by individual students in the MS and PhD programs is assessed by their supervisory committee following standard procedures required by the graduate school and department. The outcomes data evaluated by the supervisory committees includes plans of study, research proposals, qualifying exams, and theses and dissertations.

In addition, the department employs a variety of tools to collect feedback on the overall performance of its graduate programs, including, but not limited to:

PhD and MS in Nutrition and Food Sciences

  • # students in each degree
  • Average time to degree completion
  • Average GRE scores of entering students
  • Average stipend for MS and PhD assistantships
  • Changes to graduate requirements and process stipulated by grad school
  • # graduate student authorships per student
  • # graduate student presentations per student
  • % students completing degrees in targeted time frames:
    • 2 years for MS
    • 3 years for PhD after MS degree
    • 5 years for PhD after BS degree
  • Alumni and employer surveys

MDA

  • % students completing degree in 1.5 years or less after beginning MDA coursework (past credits for dietetic internship)
  • Graduate placement and professional advancement/achievements
  • Alumni and employer surveys

MFSQ

  • % students completing degree in 2 years or less after beginning MFSQ coursework
  • Graduate placement and professional advancement/achievements
  • Alumni and employer surveys

Data-Based Decisions

Yearly reports of data-based decisions (including summary of the data upon which the decision was made) are developed by program committees after the department’s annual spring in-service day and/or reports to accrediting agencies.

PhD and MS in Nutrition and Food Sciences

Master of Dietetics Administration (MDA)

Master of Food Safety and Quality (MFSQ)

 
2016 Report 2016 Report 2016 Report
2015 Report 2015 Report 2015 Report