Course Catalog Information
Food Science (F_S)
Food Chemistry and Analysis Laboratory - Writing Intensive
The quantitative determination of the constituents of food.
Lecture/Standard with Laboratory
A-F (allow student to choose S/U option)
The Campus Writing Program conducts a two-day faculty workshop to assist with the design and implementation of your writing intensive course. Once your course proposal has been approved by the Campus Writing Program, you will receive information on time, date and location of the workshop.
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Honors Course Information
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Writing Intensive Course Information
This course is the accompanying laboratory course to the lecture course FS 4310/7310 Food Chemistry and Analysis. It is a 3-credit hour course, consisting of two discussion hours and four laboratory hours per week. The unique part of this course is the design of the laboratories. Students work in small groups of 3 or 4 students depending on class size with groups doing different experiments. While most laboratories in college are taught by students following a textbook or by receiving a handout that contains the experiments, in this course all students get is a task, e.g. "Determine the vitamin C content of oranges". Students then need to find a method that they can use to get the task done. Prior to doing the laboratories, students present the chosen methodology in class during the discussion hours to assure that students understand what they will be doing and to introduce all students to the various methodologies. In addition, students prepare the lab handouts for their peers. While the laboratory is conducted as a group, the writing assignment are individual assignments, Nevertheless, the students are encouraged to meet as a group to work on their individual assignments together. While this might sound like an oxymoron, it it is not, because each student has a DIFFERENT assignment on the SAME laboratory. So, the idea is that the group sits down together to find and select an appropriate method to solve the task. Then the two students responsible for the "front end", which is the write-up of the presentation and the recipe sheet, need to work together to make sure their two documents are complementary, while the two students on the "back-end" who write up the memo and the lab report will do that individually. Since the tasks are rotating around the group, there will be varying combination of students working together and the different aspects of each lab.
I do not intend the make any major changes compared to the course as it was approved for Spring 2016. The course has been developed over several years and is at a point where I feel that the overall design works very well and students learn in the course what I hoped for. However, because of the very specific design, e.g. group size will depend on total enrollment, the course is slightly modified every time it is being taught, specifically in regard to the exact tasks that students receive. However, I do not expect to make any larger changes in regard to assignments, as the assignments met the course objectives, which are: understanding modern analytical techniques, being able to adapt a methodology from the literature to accomplish an analytical task, being able to write a laboratory handout, being able to present and explain a methodology and keeping a laboratory notebook, very well. The group size ranges between 3 and 4 students and the number of groups then depends on the overall enrollment.
Should this course be considered for funding?
Large Enrollment Courses:
1. One assignment is to keep a laboratory notebook. While there are no drafts in the sense of a student being able to revise specific entries in the lab notebook, since the students get feedback on their entries in every lab session, they learn from lab session to lab session on how to improve their entries. Additional info on how this assignment improves students' writing and critical thinking skill is provided below in the "additional ways of using writing" section.
Length of assignment:
Power Point Presentation
2. The second assignment is to prepare a PowerPoint presentation on the methodologies needed to complete the analytical tasks. This assignment requires a draft. The purpose of the assignment is for students to learn how to extract relevant information, such as key terminology and methodological principles, from literature and then convey the information in an oral presentation accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation to an audience. For the written aspect of the presentation (i.e. the ppt) emphasis will be placed on being able to identify the most important components of a method and to be able to prepare slides that convey the information so that it is easily understood, which will include aspects, such as amount of info per slide, proper use of key terminology, etc. Draft presentations are usually about 20 slides (pages) long and are graded and reviewed by Dr. Gruen. The review will take place in the presence of the student instead of simply "being returned to the student", which is important since it allows for not just changes in wording but assures students truly understand what they are presenting due to the one-on-one interaction.
Length of assignment:
methodology recipe sheet
3. Another assignment that also includes a draft is the "methodology recipe sheet." The purpose is an extension of the previous assignment (the ppt), but the information required in the recipe sheet is different than that in the presentation. While the purpose of the assignment also is for students to learn how to extract relevant information from literature and then to convey that info to others, in this case the relevant information is not principles, but details of a methodology. Students will learn to identify the essential items that need to be included in a "recipe" sheet in order for a laboratory experiment to be conducted properly. Students will turn in one draft that will be graded by Dr. Gruen, and recipe sheets are usually about 4 pages in length.
Length of assignment:
4. A major assignment is the laboratory reports, of which there are three (3). The purpose of writing laboratory reports is for students to learn how to write up the information that they received from conducting the laboratory experiments in a coherent fashion. The recipe sheets are used as the "spring boards" for the lab reports, in that the introduction and methodology info from the recipe sheet can be used to start the lab report with the difference being that what was a directive in the recipe sheet (e.g. "Pipet 1 mL of this chemical") becomes a report of completed tasks ("1 mL of this chemical was pipetted"). So students learn the difference between the purposes and writing styles for recipes and reports. Students are given detailed information on how to write lab reports as well as examples of lab reports that they can use to guide them. While the first two lab reports do not require a draft, the last lab report requires a draft that Dr. Gruen will grade and return to students. The difference between the lab reports is that the first two lab reports that do not require drafts carry fewer points and are written on the initial "training labs" that are put together (ppt and recipe sheet) by Dr. Gruen, while the last lab report that requires a draft, which is worth more points and is done on the lab that they presented. Lab reports usually are about 6 pages in length.
Length of assignment:
5. The fifth assignment is a "memorandum" that is explained below in the "additional ways of using writing" section. It is important to note that while students work in groups on the laboratory tasks in the lab, the various assignments are all individual assignments and not group grades!
Length of assignment:
Writing Intensive Teaching
Instructor provided feedback
Oral presentation by student, followed by feedback
Students will receive feedback on all assignments via written comments. However, one important aspect of the course is that students will also receive feedback orally PRIOR to even turning in drafts of assignments, because Dr. Gruen will meet with students, after they have identified a methodology, to discuss the method to assure students understand the methodology correctly. This is done to assure that students properly understand a method BEFORE they start writing up the draft of the ppt or the recipe sheet because if students understanding of a method is incorrect, by writing it down incorrectly it would reinforce this incorrect information, whereas by assuring that students understand the method, their first draft will reflect that. Thus, the revision of the first draft will revolve around proper presentation of the information needed for other students to learn the method and to conduct the experiment, rather than correcting incorrect information. After submitting the draft documents, students will receive feedback on the draft via written comments made on the draft as well as orally in meetings with Dr. Gruen.
While the laboratory is conducted as a group, the writing assignments are individual assignments, Nevertheless, the students are encouraged to meet as a group to work on their individual assignments together. While this might sound like an oxymoron, it it is not, because each student has a DIFFERENT assignment on the SAME laboratory. So, the idea is that the group sits down together to find and select an appropriate method to solve the task. Then the two students responsible for the "front end", which is the write-up of the presentation and the recipe sheet, need to work together to make sure their two documents are complementary, while the two students on the "back-end" who write up the memo and the lab report will do that individually. Since the tasks are rotating around the group, there will be a varying combination of students working together on the different aspects of each lab.
First of all, for some of the laboratory tasks, there is more than one methodology that students can choose to fulfill the task. In addition, specifically the ppt, the recipe sheets and the laboratory reports (i.e. the assignments that require drafts) allow for more than one interpretation, explanation, analysis, or evaluation! Unlike in some laboratories where the goal is to accurately determine an analyte, the concentration of which is known a priori, these laboratories are process-oriented (i.e. how do you conduct experiments?) not product-oriented (i.e. did you find what I expect you to find?). Thus, the outcomes can be different every time because mistakes happen in such lab experiments, which then require students to analyze what might have happened, which in turn can lead easily to several possible explanations as to what happened and ultimately to different evaluations and interpretations by students. Students decide what they think may have been the most influential factor that may have affected their results. So, for example lab reports from two students who have done the same experiment and gotten the same results, may lead to very different discussions and interpretations of the results.
The writing assignments are evenly distributed throughout the semester. The lab notebook is kept throughout the semester. Two of lab reports are due in February and the sequence of the other writing assignments, i.e. which assignment is due when, is based on internal group assignments. Students work in groups of 3-4 and decide on their own as a group, who is doing which assignment (ppt, recipe sheet, memorandum, and lab report) for which lab. In any case, though, there is a writing assignment due every other week for all students.
I will use one teaching assistant for conducting the laboratory. The TA will have no grading or reviewing responsibilities, but will only help in setting up the labs, such as making sure the right chemicals and glassware are available. He/she will also help with basic lab activities, such as helping students to properly use equipment etc. The student is a graduate student in food chemistry and usually has been working in the food chemistry research laboratory for at least two years, thus has received the proper training on lab conduct by Dr. Gruen, by the lab technician for the food chemistry research lab, and, of course, by the Environmental Health and Safety department.