Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career and Higher Education

Major Professor

Waynne B. James, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Janet Richards, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Edward Fletcher, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cihan Cobanoglu, Ph.D.


self-efficacy, human resources, group activities, hands-on, confidence, hospitality industry


The purpose of this study was to explore how students described the curriculum in the Introduction to Food Production class and how they perceived the curriculum prepared them for their future in the hospitality industry. The exploratory questions that guided the study were how do students describe the experiential learning curriculum in the Introduction to Food Production course, what ways do students perceive the curriculum in the Introduction to Food Production course prepares them for their future in hospitality industry, and what changes in the curriculum do students think might improve the Introduction to Food Production course and why? The theoretical framework for this study was based on Kolb’s experiential learning theory model (1984).

Data collection methods were semi-structured interviews, student journals, and a researcher reflection journal. The cross-case analysis generated nine major themes: hands-on basics taught by professionals, memorable curriculum with useful application, challenging group work forced students to develop diverse insights, well designed facility for learning, gained confidence through memorable moments, observed industry best practices for success, connected to real world with hands-on methods, managerial skills needed for success in the future, and students desire more educational elements to the course and program. These nine themes summarize the students’ experiences in a hands-on teaching facility at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. Implications for practitioners and policy makers were described. Results of this study contributed empirical research on experiential learning theory and hospitality program curriculum. These results also add to the body of literature related to hands-on teaching activities, group work assignments, and industry-based projects.