University of Florida

Delphi survey of graduate curriculum by private stakeholders

ABSTRACT
A broad-based survey using the Delphi method was conducted to garner current information from private sector
stakeholders and build consensus opinions supporting key ideas for enhancing plant breeder education and training. This study asked respondents to suggest and rate topics and content they deemed most important to plant breeding graduate programs and curricula related to the areas of knowledge, experiences, skills, and specialties. Examination of private stakeholder recommendations for integration into a student’s education and preparation for jobs outside academia was then performed. Knowledge of traditional plant breeding, genetics, statistics, and experimental design, along with emerging topics including database management and ethics, were rated very important. Experiences rated as very important included designing an experiment, as well as field and laboratory data analysis.  Stakeholders suggested that experiences focusing on communication, teamwork, and management are key aspects of training.  Scientific skills suggested by stakeholders aligned quite well with important knowledge and experience categories and also included  skills a student can acquire through a variety of experiences focused on judgment and ideas, time and efficiency in completing tasks, and decision making abilities. The information detailed in this study will be useful to all educators seeking content ideas from private sector stakeholders for curriculum programs. It will also be a valuable tool for new graduate students seeking to understand the knowledge and skill sets that are recommended for a plant breeder prior to seeking a job in the private sector.

IMPACT STATEMENT

From the shared opinions of private sector plant breeding stakeholders, graduate program educators who prepare students for plant breeding careers will gain insight into critical knowledge, experience, and skill needs. Further, students will be better prepared to enter the private sector where two-thirds of jobs in industrialized settings occur, and employers will benefit from having a pool of new plant breeding graduates better prepared for their global needs.

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