Undergraduate Mission, Program Goals, and Assessment

Mission

The mission of the undergraduate program is to provide students with a didactic program that covers the breadth of knowledge in nutrition, from molecules to organisms to populations; provides opportunities for research; and offers practical experiences and training.

Program Goals

Upon completion of the undergraduate degree in Nutritional Sciences, a student will be able to demonstrate key components of content knowledge; analytical, integrative and critical thinking skills; and communication skills that include:

Content Knowledge

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the influence of chemical, biochemical, microbiological, and physiological disciplines as they affect the body’s processing of nutrients and food components during digestion, absorption, metabolism, and excretion.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the functions and interrelationships of nutrients and food in human health, disease prevention, and disease states.
  • Describe food and nutrition programs that contribute to the continuum of nutrition services to improve the health of our population: preconception to old age.

Analytical, Integrative, and Critical Thinking Skills

  • Integrate the biological, behavioral, socioeconomic and environmental factors related to food and nutrient intakes and needs across the lifespan.
  • Interpret and evaluate nutrition standards and analyze nutritional assessment data to make evidence-based decisions.
  • Use critical thinking skills to locate, interpret, and evaluate research findings and professional literature to explain implications and limitations.

Communication

  • Demonstrate effective and professional technical and scientific written communication skills using current technologies.
  • Demonstrate effective and professional technical and scientific oral communication skills using current technologies.

Program Assessment

The Department of Nutritional Sciences averages about 250-300 declared majors. In this past academic year (Summer 16, Fall 16, and Spring 17), 125 students graduated. Of those who graduated 56% were in the dietetics option, 26% were in the applied sciences option, and 18% were in the basic sciences option. Graduates of the dietetics option are eligible to apply to an accredited post-baccalaureate dietetics internship program. Students who complete a dietetic internship qualify to take a national exam to be credentialed as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). We are proud to report that our internship acceptance rate for the past three years has been 78% (2015); 78% (2016), and 82% (2017). This is well above the national 50% acceptance rate.

The Department of Nutritional Sciences has yearly assessments of our courses, teaching, and overall student and alumni satisfaction. These assessments are used to improve our teaching, curriculum, and advising. We are pleased to report that from our 2016 senior exit survey, 90% of students reported that they were very or mostly satisfied with the education, training, and experiences in the Nutritional Sciences major. The majority of seniors felt that Nutritional Sciences faculty offered high quality instruction with 94% of seniors being very or mostly satisfied with the overall quality of teaching. Ninety-four percent of seniors were very confident or confident that their Nutritional Sciences education prepared them for their future. From our 2017 alumni survey of our graduates from last year (46% response rate), 100% reported they were very or mostly satisfied with their nutrition education, training, and experiences in the Nutritional Sciences major. All alums who filled out the survey felt that Nutritional Sciences faculty offered high quality instruction with 100% of alums being very or mostly satisfied with the overall quality of teaching. Ninety-six percent of alums were very confident or confident that their Nutritional Sciences education prepared them for their future. The majority of Nutritional Sciences alums reported they thought the Nutritional Sciences program prepared them well or very well for the program knowledge and skills related to the program goals. See the survey results for more details.

In 2013, our didactic program in dietetics was evaluated by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. Our department was commended for its excellent undergraduate curriculum and teachers, as well as for student opportunities for research and field experiences. Our accreditation was approved for another 7 years. Most of our graduating seniors successfully find employment in nutrition or health-related fields or attend graduate school. A small number of our students attend medical school, physician assistant programs, dental school, or nursing programs. The nutritional sciences major provides students with an excellent foundation for a variety of science and health care career opportunities.