Changing nutrition knowledge and behavior in young children: The role of reflection on personally-relevant, technology-rich representations
Sunghyun Park, The Pennsylvania State University, United States
The Pennsylvania State University . Awarded
As pediatric obesity has become a significant public health concern, recent educational programs have emerged to identify and intervene with pediatric obesity. However, there has been minimal focus on considerations of working with younger children by adopting reflection upon everyday experiences as an integral step to cultivate a healthy life style. The purpose of this study was to introduce digital imaging to young children as a technique to capture, monitor, and reflect upon everyday experiences, thereby supporting children to turn everyday experiences into knowledge about practice, and thus help them improve dietary-related behaviors. A case study design was used within the context of the Bennett Family Center (BFC) Kindergarten, which is housed by the Pennsylvania State University. Five children who enrolled in the BFC participated in the 12 nutrition education sessions during three weeks. A personalized E-portfolio was designed to support children's learning about their unconscious behaviors by visualizing everyday eating experiences in an easily interpretable form, using self-captured digital images. Additionally, a food-train activity was designed to support children to visualize their current eating and to reflect upon them using the food photos that children ate.
The results of the study showed that children were able to reflect upon every day experiences and apply proper nutrition knowledge within the proposed interventions. After the reflective activities, children ate more balanced meals across five food groups and made more healthful food choices within the food group. Children reportedly talked more frequently about the foods they were eating and tried to accomplish their goals elicited from the e-portfolio activity to eat more healthily. Children's score of nutrition knowledge about the food guide pyramid increased and about general food healthiness was maintained as high. The findings indicate that the e-portfolio aided children in discovering the discrepancy between expectations and the actual captured data and in being conscious of their eating along with the food-train activity. In this manner, the e-portfolio with self-captured images may have served as an effective learning tool for children to construct new understanding that was linked to behavior changes. The food-train activity may have amplified those effects as a transfer activity. For future research, involving parents in the reflection activity may benefit children's learning in the long term.
Park, S. Changing nutrition knowledge and behavior in young children: The role of reflection on personally-relevant, technology-rich representations. Ph.D. thesis, The Pennsylvania State University.
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