|Nutrition education for the public. Discussion papers of the FAO Expert Consultation (Rome, Italy, 18-22 September 1995) - FAO Food and Nutrition Paper 62 - (1997)|
|Training needs for nutrition education: Guidelines for in-service training of nutrition educators|
Education involves empowering the learner to take interest in the subject, and apply knowledge gained to make decisions that involve situations other than those specifically presented in training, and to integrate this knowledge with experience.
Nutrition education is a process by which people are assisted in making decisions about eating. Its ultimate goals are to improve the recipients nutritional status or other aspects of their nutrition well-being through both knowledge acquisition and behaviour change skills (Devine 1988, The American Dietetic Association, 1986). Generally, the goal of nutrition education is to change specific dietary behaviours which contribute to the poor health of the public. However, other considerations such as taste and enjoyment must not be forgotten if efforts are to succeed.
Nutrition educators design, implement and evaluate programmes to help people understand healthful food consumption practices and gain skills to develop and maintain positive food and nutrition behaviours and nutritional status (Anderson, 1994). A crucial aspect of this work is to transform technical, scientific information into simple skills and practices that lay persons can put into action (Devine, 1988). An all-encompassing definition put forth by the Society for Nutrition Education regarding the Academic Preparation of the Nutrition Education Specialist states that a nutrition education specialist is a professional who is trained in the fundamental principles of human nutrition, learning theory, and educational methods including behavioural change strategies. This professional nutrition educator designs, implements, and evaluates nutrition education programmes which focus on developing and maintaining positive food and nutrition behaviours (Ullrich, 1992).
Distance education is education in which the learner is not in the same location as the trainer, and communication is via technology.
Training is the time during which instructors, with knowledge, resources and expertise, teach the learner new skills. It is also referred to as a training session or in-service training. Training also implies efforts to achieve competence in a certain specific skill. The result of training in nutrition education should be competence to teach in a certain area of food or nutrition. Formal adult education is often referred to as training. The emphasis is on formal instruction addressed to enhancing immediate job-related skills or remedying problems on the job (Yerka, 1981).
Trainers are those who instruct nutrition educators by organising and implementing nutrition education training programmes. Trainers may be individuals with backgrounds in fields other than nutrition.
In-service implies that training is required, paid for, or at least strongly encouraged by employers and that it is related to a job. Those who are trained are usually adults who continue to work while they are being instructed.
In-service training sessions can be designed for adults not previously familiar with the field (these are known as initial, or core, in-service training sessions) or as part of ongoing efforts to maintain competence among those who are already experienced in a field (often referred to as continuing education or booster training.)
The content of in-service training instruction should vary depending on the needs of the trainees. This can be discovered by conducting a needs assessment. In actuality in-service training is all too often based on the existing subject matter strengths or presuppositions of the instructors. For example, if those whose disciplinary background is nutritional science do the training, there is a tendency to focus on detailed descriptions of intake and physiological aspects of nutrition problems rather than developing trainees communication and education skills (Yerka, 1981).
We would like to acknowledge Audrey Maretzki PhD, Kathy Kolasa PhD, Carole Palmer EdD RD, and Teresita Hernandez PhD, with thanks for making insightful suggestions. Their comments were appreciated.
This project has been funded in part with Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service under contract number 53-3K06-01. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organisations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.