Welcome to the State of California 

California WIC

Participant Centered Education


PCE Training Resources
PCE Assessment and Planning Resources

(includes Nutrition Services Plan information)


Participant Centered Education

PCE is a strength-based approach that places the participant at the center of the education process. Rather than focusing only on participants’ problems, risks, or unhealthy behaviors, this approach emphasizes participants’ capabilities and strengths regarding their nutrition, health, and referral needs. In PCE, educators work collaboratively with participants to elicit and support their motivation to change, respecting them as the ones who ultimately decide if and when they will learn and/or make a change.

USDA Food and Nutrition Service has referenced the importance of using PCE principles and techniques throughout the Value-Enhanced Nutrition Assessment (VENA) guidelines and Nutrition Services Standards for WIC. PCE is a key component of California WIC’s initiative to offer Platinum Services to our participants by placing the WIC family at the center of everything we do, and focusing on the strengths of participants, WIC employees, and the community.  PCE principles and techniques have been used by local agencies for over ten years, and California WIC has accumulated ample evidence demonstrating the efficacy of this educational approach.

Theoretical Foundations

California WIC PCE has drawn heavily from the fields of Motivational Interviewing, based on William Miller’s and Stephen Rollnick’s work, and Dialogue Education, based on Jane Vella’s work. Both fields, in turn, have been greatly influenced by Carl Rogers’ humanistic psychology, James Prochaska’s Stages of Change model, Malcolm Knowles’ and Paola Friere’s approach to Adult Learning, and Kurt Lewin’s concepts of social psychology.

PCE in Individual vs. Group Settings:

What’s the same, what’s different:

Principles, techniques and steps for one-on-one education are represented in the PCE Individual Education Overview.  Steps (left column) which commonly take place during an individual education session are listed in the order they often occur.  PCE principles and techniques specific to individual education are listed in the right column.  A flow chart in the bottom right corner describes an approach for choosing topics together, with a link to the full-sized version of the chart.

The PCE Group Education Overview describes common steps used to conduct WIC classes, as well as principles and techniques specific to group education.

Most principles, techniques, and steps are the same for both individual and group education.  Minor differences are as follows:

Individual education:  The steps of “Assessment” and “Choose a Topic Together” are more relevant for individual sessions than group sessions because in most WIC classes, educators do not need to assess participants’ health needs, and because the class topic is determined in advance.  Also, certain principles and techniques, such as prioritizing needs and exploring motivation and ambivalence, are more relevant for individual education than for groups.

Group education: Some techniques apply only to group education, such as pair share and presentation/facilitation skills.

Relevant for both individual and group education, but with different applications: Several principles, such as safety and engagement, will be implemented differently, depending on whether the setting is an individual or a group session.

The PCE Model

The model below is a graphic representation of the principles, techniques, and steps essential to California WIC PCE, for both individual and group education. Principles are represented in the violet band, techniques are described in the green band, and steps which form the structure of an education session are represented in the five blue circles. The model also describes PCE’s supportive role in providing California WIC Participant Centered Services.


PCE Model 


Last modified on: 8/3/2015 10:58 AM