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Distance education is as effective as traditional education when teaching food safety

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A food safety and sanitation course was developed and administered using two different educational methods: traditional classroom style and distance education via CD-ROM and the Internet. A research project studied the differences between participants taking the distance education course and those taking the traditional course. Success of the participants was evaluated using several different measures: comparison of pre-/post-test, pass/fail of a United States nationally recognized food safety examination, and test score of the United States national food safety examination. Fifty individuals participated in the study: n = 22 in the traditional group and n = 28 in the distance education group. Data were analyzed using Statistical Power for the Social Sciences (SPSS). All participants took the nationally recognized food safety examination. Bivariate analyses revealed no significant association between the method of education and the national examination score. The data indicate that more highly educated people may choose a distance education course. Number of years employed in food service significantly influenced test scores among all participants. Distance participants who passed spent more time using the CD-ROM (57% spent > 10 h) compared to those who failed (25% spent > 10 h). The audio and Internet components were more useful to those who passed. Participants who passed in both groups were more likely to list English as their primary language (100%). Of those who failed, 26% listed a language other than English as primary. Data indicate that distance education is a viable method of training food service professionals in food safety and sanitation. The Distance Education Course is available through the University of Connecticut and may be accessed at Distance education courses in food safety are available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. The project was funded in part by a United States Department of Agriculture Integrated Food Safety Grant.
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Keywords: distance education; food safety; learning style; technology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Connecticut, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Box 4017, Storrs, CT 06269, USA; 2: Oregon State University, Department of Food Science and Technology, 100 Wiegand Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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