The purpose of this research is to present and evaluate an educational intervention strategy developed at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) to enhance the interpersonal communication skills of Associate Degree students. Specifically, a class in interpersonal communications with unique behavioral objectives was introduced into the Associate Degree programs in January 2001 to improve the preparation of these students as managers and facilitators in the industry. Utilizing some core concepts of learning theory and the theory of cognitive dissonance, as well as theories of organizational change and resistance to change, an ethnographic study was conducted to assess the extent to which students demonstrate competency in meeting the behavioral objectives of the Interpersonal Communication training at the CIA. The research design employed a pre- and post training ethnography to elicit observable changes in student behavior. The researcher conducted student interviews, observed student group interaction by videotape, and engaged the study group to write about their perceptions of what they learned and how they could apply their communication skills. These diverse assessments were analyzed to determine consistencies and inconsistencies of responses as well as evidence of behavior change in areas identified in the Interpersonal Communication Training program. These are some of the most critical components of this training: Positively respond to personality differences and values among people; Demonstrate nonverbal communication skills; Demonstrate the components of active listening; Demonstrate four differences in communication between men and women; Apply interpersonal communication skills for effective teamwork; and Utilize a team role(s) for effective teamwork. Interpersonal Communications 1 5 The results suggested great variability by student and by course objective. The variety of identifiable factors for successful mastery suggested a clear result: many forces outside of Interpersonal Communication Training influence the mastery of class objectives as evidenced by this study. Thus, the very lack of trends is reflective of the fact that numerous variables could present themselves to impede the progress toward mastery of the behavioral objectives outlined in the training program. Amongst these variables is the approachability of the teacher conducting the training as well as the affirmation of the behavioral objectives in the overall culture of the institution that is conducting the training. Since behavioral change is being attempted in a number of hospitality schools, with particular emphasis on interpersonal communication skills, further research would be required to identify and assess the variables that will either enhance or impede the application of the behavioral objectives as conducted in interpersonal training programs. In sum, we need to evaluate the extent to which informal organizational culture and organizational dynamics can inoculate people against practicing behaviors previously taught within a formalized curriculum at the same organization.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Group relations training; Interpersonal communications; Culinary Institute of America

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Hospitality and Tourism Management (CAST)


Jacobs, James


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