Effective Communication

Effective Communication

By “Dean Jacobs”


In the Case of Beth Owens and the Culinary Arts Program we have some challenges. They each come at their instruction methods in different manners. Beth finds Chef Reiner’s (Chef) behavioral methods conflict with her constructivist background. Beth’s challenge is to find a way to retain and support the students they have and also to promote the Culinary Arts Program.

As the Project Manager, Dean Jacobs could help promote a positive interaction and communication between Chef and his students (stakeholders) by hosting an informal meeting so everyone can learn about the direction that Chef wants to take the Program. It is also necessary that the students see and understand that the Dean also supports his instructor, Chef Reiner.

As the ID, Beth needed to learn more about the Culinary Arts Program, safe food handling procedures, and how to provide positive constructive feedback to culinary arts students. She could do this by examining her own beliefs about constructivism and find a way to integrate those with Chef’s behaviorist approach.

As Dean Jacobs, there are a few things to consider. First, what are the rules and regulations guiding a “kitchen” in the culinary world? Second, does Chef abide by these rules and regulations? Third, I, the Dean, need to sit down with Chef and have a meeting with him to find out what kinds of issues there are from Chef’s perspective. At this point, I already have a pretty good “idea” of the issues some of the students were having. However, it may be constructive to have a meeting with the students as well after my meeting with Chef.

In the culinary world, regardless if one starts at Wendy’s or in their own kitchen, there are food safety issues that need to be addressed. Have you ever wondered WHY there are these neat little 8 x 11 sheets of paper in the windows of the drive thru or posted in the restaurants with a GRADE on them? What about the signs in the restrooms stating that ALL EMPLOYEES MUST WASH THEIR HANDS BEFORE RETURNING TO WORK?

As a former Wendy’s crew person, Crew Leader and Assistant Manager, Line cook (Pantry, Grill, and Sauté) and Prep Cook at The Biltmore Estate, Line cook (Dessert, Pantry, Grill, and Sauté) at Champion Hills Country Club, and various other restaurants, THE most important issue is safe food handling procedures. One may see signs posted that state something to the effect that a certain person has completed ServSafe Certification from the NRA (National Restaurant Association). (This is a big deal in my opinion. I carried a ServSafe Card for years.) Part of the scores one sees on the GRADE signs includes points for having ServSafe certified people on staff. When the Health Inspector comes around to inspect and give you your GRADE (hopefully an A), you hope that the folks that have the certifications are working that day so you can get the extra points. (DO NOT eat anywhere that has a score less than an A. You are asking for intestinal troubles and maybe more.)

Personally, I agree with Chef and his method of holding the students accountable for their appearance and production. First of all, who wants to eat food from someone with long stringy hair hanging down, different colors of chipped nail polish, dangling earrings, and 2 or 3 rings on each finger and thumb? THAT would be a BACTERIA’s dream come true! All those places to hide and breed and the opportunities to make people sick! It would be like Disney World for them if they had feelings – they would be so happy! What should I think about dirty and dull knives and equipment? The first thing that crosses is my mind is cross contamination and food borne illnesses.

The second issue is their production skill: how well do they listen, take direction, how fast do they produce good quality food consistently? Once they get out of culinary school and they have their “paper”, they have an opportunity to be a Chef. There are many levels and types of chefs. If one wants to achieve the Level of Executive Chef (Project Manager), he/ she will need to excel in all areas of the restaurant and hospitality industry. The most notable Culinary Arts Program is The Culinary Institute of America.

“CIA is a private, not-for-profit college dedicated to providing the world’s best professional culinary education. Excellence, leadership, professionalism, ethics, and respect for diversity are the core values that guide our efforts. We teach our students the general knowledge and specific skills necessary to live successful lives and to grow into positions of influence and leadership in their chosen profession.”

– See more at: http://www.ciachef.edu/about-the-cia/#sthash.bcMQqg2S.dpuf

I liken how CIA teaches to how Chef Reiner is instructing his students. He is requiring and holding them to higher standards so they may succeed in the culinary world and life. The ability to communicate effectively is crucial to the success of a project (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008). Sometimes it is brutal, back breaking work. But the reward and the satisfaction from having pulled off a lunch of 400 guests (with 4 cooks on the line) ordering à la carte between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM is incredible and makes you want to do it all again the next day!

How many jobs do you know of that would accept your coming to work late, leaving early, being idle, not cleaning up after yourself and your work area, wearing dirty clothes, etc.? Maybe a plumber’s helper could get by with the dirty clothes. Which Project Manager would want a person who did not listen or take direction, be respectful of others, work as a TEAM, or be mindful of project costs and being on time in submitting their projects?

There may be ways for Beth to mesh her constructivist point of view with the necessary behaviorist approach of Chef. Behaviorists Skinner et albelieve “that meaning exists in the world separate from personal experience. The goal of understanding is to come to know the entities, attributes, and relations that exist in this objective reality. Frames instructional goals in specific, behavioral, observable terms. The behavioral approach is concerned with immediate, recognizable changes in behavior.” Beth needs to understand that in the culinary world, results have to be immediate or within a reasonable time frame depending on what the issue is. If it is an issue in sanitation, a student can be re-trained. If it is an issue in appearance, this is easily correctable if the student is willing to listen and the feedback is given in a positive manner.

Constructivists, like Beth and Vygotsky et al, “Hold that learners impose meaning on the world, and so “construct” their own understanding based on their unique experiences. Frames instructional goals in experiential terms: specifying the kinds of learner problems addressed; the kinds of control learners exercise over the learning environment; the activities in which they engage and the ways those activities could be shaped by leaders or instructors; and the ways in which learners reflect on the results of their activity together.”

Chef and Beth can work together to mesh these two approaches because they really are not too far apart in reality. The stakeholders (student learners) have control over their learning environment when they abide by food safety and sanitation guidelines. They construct meaning and understanding through the creation of product. The activities, shaped by the Chef (instructor/leader), engage the students to create meaning through their food. Each student has a unique experience but for it to be “measured” in the culinary world, the goals have to be specific, measurable, and observable. It is “important to clarify to ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them and what their responsibilities will be for the project” (Portny, et al., 2008). There is some information left out of this scenario, too much to write about, however, it is a doable project. I would be excited to take on Beth’s role!Image


Ertmer, P., & Quinn, J. (2007). The id casebook: Case studies in instructional design (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Instructional Design Approaches, n.d. Retrieved from depts.washington.edu/…/Instructional%20Design%20Approaches.htm‎. November 2013.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010a). Communicating with stakeholders. [Video webcast] [with Dr. Harold Stolovitch] Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_4065699_1%26url%3D

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010b). Practitioner voices: Strategies for working with stakeholders. [Video webcast] [with Troy Achong & Vince Budrovich] Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_4065699_1%26url%3D

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010c). Project management concerns: Communication strategies and organizational culture. [Video webcast] [with Dr. Harold Stolovitch] Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_4065699_1%26url%3D

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


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