Assessing a food safety training program incorporating active learning in vegetable production using Kirkpatrick's four level model
Gavin, Kyle Arthur
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Gilliss reported that "contaminated food consumed in the United States causes an estimated 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths annually" (2011, p. 749). The risk of contaminated food reaching consumers can be reduced by the use of food safety training programs. As the number of vegetable consumers increases and the consumers' concern for quality food grows, there is a need to improve food handler training programs. The over-arching question guiding this research was: What enhancements can be made to the vegetable producer's food safety training program to ensure improvement in the safe practices/behaviors and increases in food safety knowledge of vegetable production employees? The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of active learning teaching strategies on the Growers Express food safety training program among vegetable packing employees using Kirkpatrick's four level model of training evaluation. A mixed-method time series design was used. Sixty-one subjects from one vegetable packaging facility participated in the evaluation. The subjects were split into two groups where they completed a food safety knowledge pre-test, participated in either an active learning or traditional training series (depending on group), and submitted a training reaction survey. The active learning training group showed significant improvement in their test scores on three of the test sections. The traditionally trained group only improved significantly on one test section and their scores decreased on one test section. All participants reacted positively to the training program, but the active learning group agreed or strongly agreed to the statements more often on the training reaction survey. Based on the results of this study, it was determined that the addition of active learning methods positively influenced the subjects' reactions to the training program, increased test scores on the food safety knowledge exam, enhanced the subjects' on job behaviors and actions, and improved the overall effectiveness of the program.