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Learner-Centered Education Evaluation Study and the Finding the Teacher Within Training Project

In 2004, California WIC was awarded a three-year WIC Special Project Grant by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service in partnership with UC Berkeley’s Center for Weight and Health  to evaluate the effectiveness of LCE.  This study examined the efficacy of LCE to facilitate behavior change in WIC participant fruit and vegetable consumption. 

Ten California WIC agencies participated in this study: five intervention and five control. Intervention agencies participated in the 2005 Finding the Teacher Within Training Project and implemented LCE principles and practices in their fruit and vegetable nutrition classes. Control agencies used their usual teaching methods in their fruit and vegetable education classes.

At the end of the study, it was found that the learner-centered teaching approach had several distinct advantages over the traditional education classes:

    • WIC participants in learner-centered classes were more likely to report changing their eating behaviors related to fruit and vegetable consumption.
    • “It really encouraged me to get out there and do a garden.” 

      --WIC participant who attended an LCE fruit and vegetable class

    • WIC participants reported greater satisfaction with learner-centered education classes. 
    • [Using a learner-centered approach, the teacher] “asked us for our opinions, and that was fine because we learn more when we are talking… I think that is why I felt comfortable, because she gave us the confidence that we could say to her what we were thinking.” 

      --WIC participant who attended an LCE fruit and vegetable class

    • WIC teachers using a learner-centered approach were more satisfied with the WIC nutrition education teaching experience.
    • “I've enjoyed classes that participants teach others something, and they feel part of a group.”
      “Using interactive learning technique really makes teaching a joy.” 

      --WIC teachers trained to use LCE

    • WIC agency leadership identified many positive outcomes resulting from adoption of learner-centered education classes.
    • “At first, they (teachers) were a little apprehensive. Once they got involved in it, they loved it.”
      “They have gotten participants to set goals that they never thought they would be able to do.” 

      --WIC leaders describing teachers’ response to LCE training

The Executive Summary (Word)"Opens a new browser window"describes evaluation results in more detail.  A complete description of the study design, evaluation tools, findings, and lessons learned are described in the Learner-Centered Education Evaluation Study Final Report 2008 (Word)"Opens a new browser window". The Study Timeline (Word)"Opens a new browser window"details the chronology of study events and the LCE Resource Kit provides training materials and lesson plans.

Recommendations

We recommend, on the basis of this study, that WIC agencies and other similar programs offering nutrition education consider integrating learner-centered principles and practices into their programs.  Nutrition education classes need to emphasize participants’ learning needs.  Additionally, this study points to the importance of training and ongoing support for WIC teachers and WIC leadership in order to implement and sustain this approach to education.

For more information, please contact Nancy.Crocker@cdph.ca.gov 

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Last modified on: 1/12/2012 11:59 AM