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VCC's revamped culinary program focuses on active participation

Posted on July 19, 2017



Students are encouraged to take more responsibility for learning, reflect on work and incorporate modern techniques

As originally posted in Metro Vancouver

New instructional strategies resulting in a more learner-driven curriculum have revamped Vancouver Community College’s (VCC) culinary arts (professional cook 1), and culinary arts (professional cook 2) programs, says the culinary arts department head at the college.

“A major emphasis of the new program is active student participation,” says Collin Gill. “While students have always received hands-on learning, we’ve taken it a step further by encouraging students to become self-directed and responsible for their own learning, and to come to class well prepared for active participation in classroom and kitchen activities.”

The programs, which can be completed as part of the pathway to a Red Seal designation — the benchmark set out by the Industry Training Authority (ITA) for skilled trades — also use a combination of lecture, class discussion and independent study to promote the development of professional practice in the food industry.

“We’ve added a reflection component that sees students spending more time on assessing what they have made,” says Gill. “So while students are still getting the learning outcomes set out by the ITA, they also explore questions such as what is interesting to them about a certain food, which might then be researched and presented or take on the form of a class discussion.

“We are also imparting more modern techniques and teaching more to technique. For example, if we are examining braising, which is French technique, we teach how it can be applied to world dishes rather than just French cuisine. This change was driven by student interest.”

The changes to the program are being supported by an update to VCC’s fully operational industrial kitchens, which over the course of last year were outfitted with all of the latest kitchen equipment, including smart ovens and blast chillers for cook-chill production.

Gill says a new, flexible delivery — which was also implemented due to student demand — rounds out the program changes. “Our classes are now Monday to Thursday in the a.m., as opposed to both morning and afternoon,” says Gill. “This gives students more time for other responsibilities. We believe this, combined with our new instructional strategy, is a more engaging experience for our students.”

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