The Marshall University Nutrition Education Program (MUNEP) delivers nutrition education to needy elementary schools (grades K-2) in rural West Virginia. This dissertation research reviewed pre-/post-tests and teacher focus group findings comparing effectiveness of RDN educators and dietetic intern (DI) educators in program delivery. DI educators have no formal educational training or pedagogical practice compared to RDNs, yet they play a significant role in program implementation.
To examine differences in knowledge/behavior change based on pre-/post-scores after an intervention of nutrition education lessons by RDN educators/DI educators; and to compare the effectiveness of RDN educators/DI educators through teacher focus group findings.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
A mixed-methods, retrospective study of (15) knowledge/behavior-change questions on student pre-/post-tests (n = 1160) comparing RDN/DI educators; and results of teacher focus groups (n = 4), with teachers (n = 30) examining the effectiveness of RDN/DI educators in program implementation.
Quantitative analysis included independent t-tests comparing pre-/post-test scores for overall knowledge/behavior change; independent t-tests examining post-test scores for overall behavior/overall knowledge and comparing RDN/DI educators; post-hoc Bonferroni ANOVA analysis comparing post-test scores to free/reduced-priced (FR) meals in needy schools. Qualitative inquiry included thematic analysis to compare effectiveness of RDN/DI educators.
Overall knowledge change from pre- to post-test was statistically significant (P = .000); no significant difference in overall behavior change from pre- to post-test (P = .710), or comparison between RDN/DI educators (P = .175 for knowledge change; P = .479 for behavior change) were found. Statistical significance existed for post hoc review of students' post-tests and socio-economic status based on percentage of FR school meals for students in the 50%-59% FR meal category vs students in the 90%-100% FR meal category (P = .017). Focus groups showed that RDN educators were empowered in the classroom and had better management than DI educators; taste-testing is a critical component for both RDN/DI educators.
This study adds to limited data comparing effectiveness of RDN/DI educators in nutrition education. Results will be used to inform DI training, improve MUNEP participant experience related to knowledge and behavior change, and to improve MUNEP experience in needy schools.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Education.