Development and evaluation of an interactive multimedia program on teaching nutrient composition of food: vitamin A and iron

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Meadows, Monica Roseman

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An interactive multimedia program, SmartBytes, that incorporated learning and instructional design theories to promote change in knowledge, selfefficacy, attitude and food selection behaviors related to nutrient composition of food for vitamin A and iron was developed. The program was tested in a controlled study with 418 introductory and 182 advanced level students enrolled in nutrition courses in 8 universities across the United States. While control groups participated in traditional class work and assignments only, experimental groups completed SmartBytes in addition to the traditional curricula. Cognitive change was evaluated using 21 items for introductory and 33 items for advanced students. Fifteen attitude and 8 introductory or 12 advanced self-efficacy items were measured on a 5-point Likert type scale. Food behaviors were assessed for introductory students with two separate 24-hour food records completed at least one month apart, before and after the intervention. Mean change scores were calculated by subtracting post intervention scores from pre intervention scores. Statistically significant differences between means were indicated by a p value of less than 0.05. Cognitive and self-efficacy mean change scores differed significantly between the experimental and the control group for both the introductory and advanced students. Mean attitude change scores for the two groups differed significantly for introductory students, but those for advanced students did not. Average change in consumption of vitamin A per 1000 kcals differed significantly between the groups; however, change in iron intake per 1000 kcals did not. Instructional method was positively correlated with changes in cognition, attitude, self-efficacy and vitamin A/1000 kcal for introductory students. Positive correlations were present between instructional method and changes in cognition and self-efficacy for advanced students. Approximately 80% of introductory level and 50% of advanced level students spent =45 minutes on each module; over 30% of advanced level students spent up to 90 minutes on each module. Time spent was positively correlated with cognitive gains for both groups. Feedback collected from experimental subjects at the post intervention measure indicated that a vast majority of both introductory and advanced level students found the entire program and individual modules to be helpful. In summary SmartBytes enhanced traditional nutrition curricula at both introductory and advanced level.