Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership



First Reader/Committee Chair

Hughes, Andrew


This study aimed to explore the theory of expert teaching by comparing culinary educators at the secondary and postsecondary levels based on their varying levels of experience. Experience for culinary educators included pre-service teacher training, in-service teacher training, professional industry experience, and teaching experience. The primary goal of this descriptive phenomenological study was to examine the impact professional experience has on culinary educators’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). Distinctions in PCK include collective PCK, personal PCK, and enacted PCK. PCK theory has been an integral part of educational research for over three decades; it has been studied, refined, and implemented into educational programs worldwide. Tacit knowledge (TK) theory has existed in the literature longer than PCK. Still, the two theories have not been intimately linked to examine teaching a contextual subject, like culinary arts, as it is in this study. TK is contextual knowledge that can be made explicit by regulating one’s cognition (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). Therefore, as a contextually taught art form, culinary education requires those that teach it to possess PCK and TK. This study is the first to connect the constructs of PCK and TK and apply them to an examination of culinary arts education.

Participants who were current culinary educators at either secondary or postsecondary schools with various professional experiences participated in one-on-one interviews. Analysis of the interview results determined that educators of culinary education are generally lacking in PCK. Culinary educators with increased amounts of professional experience exhibit culinary-specific PCK more readily than those with lesser amounts of professional experience. Pre-service teaching programs for culinary teachers for secondary and postsecondary teachers focused on emphasizing the tenets of culinary-specific PCK should become standard practice for the profession. Secondary schools should better emphasize the importance of experience in the food and hospitality industry when hiring culinary arts educators. Postsecondary schools should better emphasize the importance of pre-service teacher training that is specific to culinary content and pedagogy when hiring culinary arts educators. Both secondary and postsecondary schools should emphasize in-service professional development that is discipline-specific and teaches the tenets of culinary-specific PCK. In addition, administrators should ensure programs are in place that create collaboration between experienced teachers and novice teachers.

The outcome of this study could be used to determine the need for designing a professional development program for culinary educators based on improving levels of PCK and TK. Improved in-service teacher training facilitates the expert-to-student tacit knowledge exchange and enables institutions to promote a supportive learning culture that encourages high productivity and personal excellence.