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4.1 Teaching and learning strategy
The teaching and learning strategy adopted within the FDSc in Food Manufacture (Process and Business Improvement) reflects the purposes and objectives set out in the United Kingdom QAA Final Draft FDSc Benchmark Statement in the following ways:
The teaching and learning strategy adopted within the FDSc in Food Manufacture (Process and Business Improvement) uses a variety of learning modes and the delivery of the programme will also be flexible in that it will be taught by distance learning and day release. Seminars and module tutorials are planned to give students the opportunity to apply, investigate, assimilate and evaluate issues around the core lecture topics. Practical sessions for experimentation and/or illustration of principles, practices and techniques are timetabled for the appropriate units. For the science-based units these take place in fully supported laboratories where there is full technician support for timetabled activities and for student project work.
The main focus of the teaching is the relationship of the teaching to the working experience of the students and hence every emphasis is made to ensure teaching is practically focused, industrially relevant and draws upon the experiences of the individual students within the group. The majority of units will have a work-based assignment built into the assessment where the students will be able to draw upon their experience or indeed experience new environments related to the subject outcomes of the unit. Visiting speakers are seen as key aspects of teaching and learning in that these enable the theory elements to be applied and analysed in the context of the food manufacturing industries and their inclusion develops the cultural awareness of the student. External visits to organisations and events will also help to reinforce the application of theories and practices in the commercial world.
It is common to find that a high proportion of the students are mature with substantial practical experience. Students will be provided with pre-course preparation reading materials and a diagnostic assessment to ensure that all candidates have some knowledge of the subject prior to the start of the science units.
Timetable and semester length
The part-time programme will normally be completed in 2.5 years or 6 semesters, and the full-time programme in 2 years. Students following the distance learning programme will be studying in parallel with those on the day release option (6 semesters) and study 3 units over the course of, and within semester A.
Traditionally, from a food manufacturing perspective the period between November and December is very busy due to the Christmas period. This period has been left free and so semester A starts 2 weeks earlier that the ‘normal’ academic timetable.
For the day release programme a traditional teaching approach, including lectures, has been adopted within the Level 1 units in which the students can be guided in self-study, laboratory skills and the collection and interpretation of data. In year 1, tutorials are an integral part of the support framework and are particularly relevant given the diverse nature of the students. Level 2 units, whilst using traditional lectures as a framework, employ increasingly challenging strategies to develop the students’ ability to learn independently and employ critical and analytical thought. The main focus of the teaching and learning of the day release programme is through lectures, practicals, tutorials and seminars with significant emphasis being placed on the use of visiting speakers and site visits.
Where circumstances dictate, students may be able to adopt a flexible approach to their learning within the structure of the year.
4.2 Supported distance learning
This mode of learning adheres to the QAA Code of Practice, section 2: Collaborative Provision and Flexible and Distributed Learning (including e-learning), which addresses the management of flexible and distributed learning.
Supported and distance learning is used here to characterise approaches to teaching, learning and assessment that:
The programme adopts a modular approach which parallels the day release mode in that delivery and assessments will follow the same timescales. Students will be required to attend the campus for the 3 day induction and a study week at both Level 1 and Level 2. Students will require access to a computer with e-mail and broadband facilities.
The recommended computer specification will be given within the student handbook.
The 3 day induction will take place in September and January prior to the commencement of the programme. It aims to provide the students with the necessary information to participate and contribute to the programme. The induction will include the following:
By the very nature of the food industries, elements of the programme are practically based and with the subject being multi-disciplinary, it requires the development of a large range of practical skills which are neither possible nor desirable to ignore. The study week will provide an opportunity for this element to be delivered and for skills to be acquired, developed and assessed and the learning outcomes attained.
The study week will take place at Holbeach and/or at Riseholme using the excellent laboratory accommodation and specialist facilities. This will allow students to fully exploit the academic and technical support in science, management, and crop and animal production. Arrangements will also be made to visit farms and primary producers to reinforce and support the classroom-based material.
The principle objective of the compulsory (unless exempt due to APEL) study week is to provide a programmed opportunity for the student to undertake a series of practical investigations in support of their studies. Some of these skills may already have been developed by participants during their employment, but the theme of the week is to not only develop laboratory competence but also concerns the development of problem solving skills in an environment exploiting the various disciplines involved in science. In the majority of cases it is not expected that prior credit will be given for the full practical school.
The study week will provide an opportunity for the students to:
Each of the technically based units contains a practical element which will be undertaken during one of the 2 prescribed study weeks. The fees for the weeks are included in the course fee, but students will be required to meet the costs of their own travel and accommodation. The programme administrator will help in finding accommodation.
Units assessed during the study weeks:
Principles of Food Science and Microbiology
Principles of Food Technology
Communication and Numeracy for Working Learners
Introduction to Food Factory Design
Food Processing, Preservation and Packaging
Food Process Engineering
New Process Development
Teaching and Learning Strategy
The teaching and learning strategy adopted will be as outlined in section 4.1 of this document. The following applies specifically to supported distant learning students:
These will be presented via the University’s virtual learning environment ‘Blackboard’ and will be in the form of written lecture notes, presentations and exercises. Practical elements of the modules will take place during the study weeks as detailed above. Student to student interaction will be encouraged and discussion groups will form the basis of some formative assessments, tutor feedback and student participation.
Lectures will form an integral part of the induction and study weeks to support the learning materials. Where computer or internet access fails alternative methods of accessing learning materials will be provided, for example, module discs or module booklets.
There is an ongoing commitment by the department to develop new and innovative supported distance learning materials. Future developments may take the form of web-based seminars, conferences and practicals.
Tutors and mentors
Tutors and mentors will be identified to the student at induction and contact details will be provided in the Supported Distance Learning handbook.
All students will be monitored and contacted at least once during a semester by the respective course tutor. It is expected that the student should contact their tutor or programme leader with any issues or concerns relating to the programme as soon as they are able.
Student support provided by the University is detailed in the programme and the Supported Distance Learning handbooks and will be identified at induction.
Assessments will take the form of written assignments, phase tests and presentations. Phase tests and presentations will take place during the study weeks. The submission dates for assessments will be in the Supported Distance Learning handbook, and the assignment front sheets detailing learning outcomes assessed and grading criteria will be posted on Blackboard. Assignments involving laboratory practicals will be issued during the study weeks. Assignments must be submitted in paper form through the post on the due date and a record of posting retained by the student. In certain circumstances assignments may be submitted electronically. This will be through agreement with the course tutor, but must be sent to both the module tutor and course administrator.
Assignments will be returned to the students with tutor feedback. If the student wishes to discuss the comments further tutors may be accessed by e-mail or by telephone.
Monitoring of progress
Student progress will be monitored by tutors through Blackboard as students access course materials and discussion groups. The granting of extensions, extenuating circumstances, in-course retrieval and the adoption of the procedure for a lapse in study will follow the University’s regulations. Where there is a continued lack of participation by the student, or failure to submit assignments, the module tutor or programme leader will contact the student by e-mail, telephone or by post.
As part of the programme each student will identify with an employer mentor at induction. This will normally be their line manager. The mentors will be provided with an induction booklet stating the aims of the programme and their role in support of the student. There will also be training days available for mentors in each semester following student induction. Mentors unable to attend will be provided with the information and will be contacted by an identified tutor for further support. It will not be the responsibility of the mentor to grade work-based assessment but they will be involved in feedback to the individual and will help to provide day to day support of the individual whilst working on the project.
The programme ensures compliance with the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in the following ways:
Work placements provide work-based learning opprotunities for all students and is essential for FDSc students. Students gain real experience of being part of a workplace environment and apply skills and knowledge aquired in this context as described in the learning outcomes:
The benchmark requirement for a substantive work-based learning component within a foundation degree programme has been addressed by work-based assessments through each of the subject units, where individuals will be asked to evaluate strategies used within the workplace (this may be subject to confidentiality issues which will be dealt with later in this document). Two of the units are work-based research projects where the individual will be asked to take on a piece of research directly related to their area of preferred study.
As this programme is vocational and taught part-time, it is envisaged that the majority of students will have full-time employment within a relevant food industry. Students who wish to enrol on the programme who have no experience of related industries would need to find part-time employment or placement opportunities as it is compulsory for the successful completion of the course that the student fulfils a minimum of 10 weeks within a vocationally relevant work placement. It would be the responsibility of the student to find this type of experience although the programme team would provide guidance. Work placements may take the form of:
Mature students, or those already employed within the sector, may be able to provide appropriate evidence of prior work-based learning and reflection, which will exempt them from undertaking the formal placement requirement. Every effort will be made by the University to ensure that a suitable workplace is found, or a “simulated” work experience is available for those students who are not employed in the food manufacturing sector.
All placements must be agreed in advance with the employer and University to allow pre-placement checks to be carried out which will include health and safety checks. The arrangements will be managed by the Work-based Training Department using qualified staff and agreed protocols. During the placement period employers will be contacted and students visited, at which time both student feedback and employer comments will be considered.
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