MANHATTAN, KAS. — AIB International is in the midst of major upgrades and renovations to its premier Baking and Food Technical Services course: Baking Science and Technology (BS&T). The efforts include an extensive renovation of the course curriculum, content, delivery and assessments.

The upgrade dates back to last summer, when a team of curriculum experts, subject matter experts, technical writers, graphic designers and instructional designers began redesigning the BS&T course curriculum to better align the content and instruction methods with industry needs.

“We know that today’s learners are not yesterday’s learners,” said Aaron Clanton, global manager of standards and calibration. “We needed to renovate not just the materials, but the methods of instruction.”

Mr. Clanton said AIB has been putting more focus on assessments and “how to use that information to continue making improvements.”

“The demographic data collected helps determine what upgrades and renovations will best serve our participants,” he said.

Information from recent courses showed 77% of participants have a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, 70% are international students (non-U.S. citizens), and 54% are non-native speakers of English.

“These factors are critical to understanding what skills and information participants need, and the best methods of meeting those needs,” Mr. Clanton said.

The AIB said baking competencies were identified for targeted design in curriculum revision areas. These competencies include science and troubleshooting (product, process, ingredients and quality), operations and safety. Specific areas (bakery products, bakery processes and bakery ingredients) then were grouped into priority tiers to determine how much focus should be given to each product, process or ingredient, AIB said.

Then, last fall, AIB said a series of skill self-assessments were implemented as part of the BS&T course curriculum to help participants and instructors gauge and monitor participants’ progress through the course. Surveys with 38 questions were administered to participants four separate times: at the start of the course, at checkpoints during the course, and after the course was completed. At each stage, participants were asked to evaluate their own level of skill on a variety of topics covered in the course. Participants gained an average of 33% improvement in measurable skills, AIB said.

Two authentic assessments were created: one for bread, one for flour. According to AIB, authentic assessments are a form of evaluation wherein participants are asked to perform real-world tasks (or closely related simulations) to demonstrate their ability to apply knowledge and skills. Course participants’ managers also were asked to engage in assessments by offering input on what their employees gleaned from the course and how they were able to apply it at their jobs.

“One of the major things we heard from managers was that they need for their employees who attend the BS&T to be able to apply what they learn, and use that information in a way that makes a difference to their efficiencies, downtime, waste, and cost of product,” said Brian Strouts, vice-president of baking and food technical services. “That’s understandable. Baking is a competitive industry.”

The BS&T redesign also includes more interactive elements. Each lecture now contains at least one interactive activity.

“The activity may be as simple as turning and talking to a partner about how you adjust absorption,” Mr. Strouts said. “The point is keeping participants engaged and measuring if they understand the material being presented. That’s going to be key to making it an even more successful learning product — we’re going to be able to tell if someone is having trouble with the material.”

While the curriculum, materials and delivery methods of the BS&T are being renovated to serve changing industry needs, AIB said the traditions of quality and excellence remain the course’s hallmark characteristics.

“In a recent exit survey, 96% of the class participants said that they were proud of being BS&T graduates,” Mr. Clanton said. “That is a tradition we will preserve and carry forward into the future.”