This paper describes several creative experiences (and corresponding assessments) in a Food Product Development capstone course for Food Engineering students at University ABC. This course was designed in order for them to experience a real work environment, where they have the opportunity to think and act as experts in the field do, and included several problem-solving learning environments (PSLE) . Course main goal is that students design and develop a new food product involving idea generation, formulation, process selection, nutritional facts and label, shelf-life estimation, costs, sensory evaluation, among many others aspects of its development. Students were organized into teams of two members; the group had a total of eight students (3 male). Course activities were designed for student teams to work independently in the required labs depending on their product selection; however, several course sessions and meetings with the course instructor were planned in order to promote creativity including lessons and selected exercises that provided a number of techniques to help them generate innovative solutions to the correctly defined problem. These techniques include brainstorming, vertical and lateral thinking, analogy, TRIZ, and SCAMPER . In this context, a creativity test at the beginning and end of the semester was applied. The test is a self-assessment that consists of 16 questions that are grouped into 5 categories of analysis that are related to the five steps that are part of the effective creative process proposed by Csikszentmihalyi : 1) Finding problems (preparation), 2) Gathering and reflecting on information (incubation), 3) Problem exploration (insight), 4) Generating and evaluating ideas (evaluation), and 5) Implementation (elaboration). Furthermore, a group of experts in the field were invited to evaluate final projects and developed food products by means of the Creative Thinking VALUE Rubric, which is made up of a set of attributes that are common to creative thinking across disciplines . Instructor, peer-, and self-assessments were also performed throughout the course and on final project. Additionally, a Specific Course Rubric that included technical aspects regarding food product development as well as abilities of the team to present their product and answering questions raised during oral and poster presentations as well as during tasting of developed food products was utilized .
An increase in the scores for every category of the creativity test  applied at the beginning and end of the semester was observed. However, according to Csikszentmihalyi  an effective creative process should follow the five steps in the mentioned order. Students' results followed a different order; performed analysis reflected a creative thinking process that resembles the engineering method . Creative Thinking VALUE Rubric mean results (out of 4) for final projects and presentations were 2.58 for Acquiring Competencies, 2.38 for Taking Risks, 2.54 for Solving Problems, 2.83 for Embracing Contradictions, 2.46 for Innovative Thinking, and 2.67 for Connecting, Synthesizing, and Transforming. Regarding the Specific Course Rubric three out of four teams’ projects received scores higher than 2.8, which correspond also to an intermediate level performance. At last, in order to identify the students’ perceptions with regards to the course and in particular to studied creative experiences a final survey was carried out. Students consider that studied course’s learning outcomes are very important and felt very confident with their progress in achieving each assessed course outcome. Every student felt that this course helped them make the transition from being a student to being a food engineer, as well as allowed them to make mistakes and learn from these. Additionally, students expressed pride regarding their achievements.
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