Practical culinary education can be costly, therefore we have to ensure that the training we provide is effective, with maximum impact, resulting in excellent employability for our graduates.
With the above in mind I assessed the delivery of practical classes in kitchen labs, presenting lecturers with great challenges trying to pay sufficient attention to each individual student.
Commonly all important tasks of the day are demonstrated and than replicated, building up a repertoire of skills over the duration of the term, which is reinforced on a continual basis.
The structure of culinary classes in a practical kitchen lab allows for 15 students to have their own individual work stations. This fact resulted traditionally in students working on their own individual stations simultaneously while preparing items of meat, poultry or fish, making it extremely difficult for the lecture to observe all the students at the same time.
See traditional structure of learning environment below.
Upon critical reflection of the situation and the learning environment, I decided that in order to deliver the best possible learning experience for the students a reevaluation of the current structure had to be carried out.
I set up a central preparation area with only three students working on meat, poultry or fish items at the time, while rotating the students within the class on completion of the task.
This allowed me to concentrate on three students carrying out the critical tasks off meat, poultry or fish preparation, while the other students continued with simple tasks and skills previously acquired, which I was able to assess upon completion at the end of the food preparation time.
See revised structure of learning environment below.
The revised structure of the learning environment allowed for better supervision, assistance, guidance and correction as students where replicating these previously demonstrated critical tasks of meat, poultry or fish preparation. This practice will be continued for all classes going forward, as the feedback from the students highlighted the increased benefit to the students learning. The use of the central preparation area for meat, poultry and fish preparation will be communicated to the rest of the culinary lecturing team as a proposal for best practice in teaching for the new term.