Challenges of teaching food microbiology in Brazil

Abstract

Food Microbiology is included in majors such as Food Engineering, Food Science and Technology, Nutrition, Veterinary Medicine, Gastronomy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, among others. Food safety and hygiene are usually the focus, but the technological applications of microbes through fermentations are also covered. During an education symposium at the Brazilian Congress of Microbiology in 2017, a group of professors expressed their difficulties associated with teaching to new generations, the use of technology in the classroom, and the application of new learning tools. The objective of this study was to gather information about the educational practices among Brazilian professors who teach Food Microbiology throughout the country. The results indeed confirmed the diversity of careers in which food microbiology is taught. We verified that professors mixed traditional teaching strategies with modern active learning methods, even though some difficulties associated with lack of time, pedagogical training, and low adherence of students for adopting these modern methods were commonly highlighted. The preferred teaching approaches were dialogued or discussed lectures, seminars, homework, case studies, and field visits. It is noteworthy that most professors still use traditional teaching methods. It is crucial that awareness concerning the educational needs in different careers and the challenges and dilemmas facing education for the new generations should be dealt with by using effective teaching approaches in food microbiology education. We suggest that a more permanent discussion forum among faculty members dealing with food microbiology in the country should be launched and this work is a step towards this goal.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank every professor who took the time to respond to our questionnaire. J.A.F.F. Finger acknowledges a scholarship provided by CNPq-Brasil.

Funding

The authors thank Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) for financial support (2013/07914-8) to the Food Research Center.

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Correspondence to Uelinton Manoel Pinto.

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According to Resolution 510 of April 07, 2016, from the Brazilian Health National Council (Conselho Nacional de Saúde), and considering the ethics, history, social, and cultural aspects related to research in the Social and Human Sciences, registration or evaluation of this research with the ethics committee of the University is not required. The first paragraph of the Resolution 510 states that “research of public opinion in which the participants are not identified” does not need to be registered nor evaluated by the ethics committee. Additionally, the informed consent from participants was obtained in the first step of the online questionnaire (please see supplemental material—online questionnaire). We start by explaining the terms of the research and emphasizing that the participant’s information will remain anonymous and the system will not register the names of the respondents. Then, we formally ask the participants if they are willing to partake in the study.

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de A. F. F. Finger, J., de Menezes, J.B.F., de Melo Franco, B.D.G. et al. Challenges of teaching food microbiology in Brazil. Braz J Microbiol 51, 279–288 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42770-019-00107-0

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Keywords

  • Education
  • Food hygiene
  • Teaching
  • Food safety
  • Higher education