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An Evaluation: Concerning Home Economics Food and Nutrition Education
The average Canadian youth is susceptible to inadequate dietary intakes, with numerous studies showing that the Canadian Food guide recommendations are far from adequate in youth consumption. This research evaluation will be based on the article titled, “University student perceptions of Home Economics: Food and Nutrition education” by Joyce Slater and Aynslie Hinds (2014). The article talks about youth individuals who are at risk for chronic illnesses from developing. Among those diseases mentioned in the article by Slater and Hinds (2014) include: heart disease, cancers, type 2 diabetes, mental health issues, or even body image dissatisfaction. The research work evaluated on “young adults’ experiences and perceptions of Home Economics food and nutrition (HEFN) education through a self administered questionnaire to 206 university students who attended middle school and high school in Canada” (Slater & Hinds, 2014, p. 68). The research paradigm that was used in this study was based on a quantitative approach. This involves the use of data analysis and other information to formulate a cumulative theory.
The first criteria that will evaluate this article are of eight characteristics based on the quantitative approach with distinctive examples. The second and third paragraph will then discuss three ways in which this paradigm enhanced this experimental study, and of three practical applications in relation to the study, all will be individually elaborated. The fourth paragraph will touch base on three reasons why home economics food and nutrition education should be implemented. Lastly, the final paragraphs will be discussing the further knowledge of school-based Home Economics education, finalized with a conclusion.
Characteristics of the Quantitative Approach
There are eight characteristics that illustrate the research paradigm of quantitative methods. The first paragraph further describes theoretical characteristics such as objectivity, deductive method, avoidance of over identifying, and of effect and outcome. This will be followed by a second paragraph discussing data analysis characteristics such as the use of the chi-square test, frequency tables, nomothetic analysis and lastly the use of questionnaires.
The first characteristic is found in the beginning of the article study, which is of the overall objectivity. This is explained by focusing the study on testing how young adults’ perception of home economics food and nutrition education was of an importance towards their education, or if it was not needed. The second characteristic is with the use of a deductive method. This is shown by theorizing to determine the authors’ main objective. Slater and Hinds suggests that, “opportunities for food and nutrition education through Home Economic courses are being threatened and teaching curricula are frequently outdated” (Slater & Hinds, 2014, p. 69). In other words, the use of promoting the initiative of HEFN is crucial to understand the relationship between young adults’ and of their own food skills and nutrition education. The third characteristic included the avoidance of over identifying the students who participated in the study. This was done by participants responding to the questionnaires anonymously, and was subjected with a random number to avoid biasness of researcher and participant. As a fourth characteristic included, is of the cause and effect outcome of the research study. The deductive method used by Slater and Hinds (2014) foreshadows the external results that are deemed observable. This is provided with the use of data analysis mentioned throughout the article, for example the chi-square test, the trending patterns, and of the use of table value percentages and frequencies.
Data Analysis Characteristics
A fifth characteristic that was of importance in the research study was of the use of a chi-square test to describe two distinctive differences. This was shown in the article for example as involving the school attendance of participants in rural and urban areas, and of gender. The sixth characteristic shown in the article was with the use of frequency tables to describe the overall trend of the questions being asked. Frequency tables consist of the participants shown with the variable “n”, and the percentage of that population frequency. An example mentioned in Slater and Hinds (2014) article, is of table 1 which explained the demographic characteristics of respondents. The overall results show the frequency population of different groupings of gender, school attendance, and faculty of study. The seventh characteristic in the research paradigm, nomothetic analysis was used; this was done so with generalizing possible trends that may have come across from the questionnaires being asked to the participants. For example, gender of the participant having an effect as to whether or not they have attended home economic classes. The last characteristic in this research paper included the use of questionnaires. This was implemented by asking the participants 17 questions based on seven groupings categorized as: age and sex, school attended, faculty currently enrolled in, if home economics education was taken in school, perceptions of food and nutrition education, level and source of food preparation skills, and of their current living arrangements.
Paradigm Reasons that have enhanced the Experimental study
Slater and Hinds (2014) intend to objectify how their theory of the exploration of different perspectives towards home economics food and nutrition education. This varied between males and females, including the residing location of the participants. The following will provide an insightful and detailed description of three paradigm reasons on the basis of the quantitative method which proven influential in the study.
First Paradigm Reason
The first reason aforementioned, discusses the use of questionnaires. Questionnaires made it clear that residing in urban or rural areas for schooling had no substantial effect; thus location does not have a significant factor in terms of nutrition education. There were also open ended questions used in this paradigm in terms of why “home economics food and nutrition education belongs in the school curriculum in Manitoba” (Slater & Hinds, 2014, p. 74), and of what the participants would define cooking methods as. The importance of the questionnaires makes it relevant towards identifying and hypothesizing the reason why young adults lack the knowledge of food and nutrition.
Second Paradigm Reason
The second reason mentioned in Slater and Hinds (2014) study, was of the use of a chi-square test in relation to location of the participant and gender. The results of the chi-square test based on gender in particular, demonstrate a relationship between education levels of home economics education. Slater and Hinds state that, “gender parity may reflect changing societal attitudes and trends toward male involvement in food-related activities” (Slater & Hinds, 2014, p. 75). This reasoning is critical since males and females vary in interests. Gender is used as an independent variable, and the questionnaires such as age, and attendance of school for example are all dependent sub topics. For example, Slater and Hinds (2014) indicate how females in particular were more likely to take home economics education in any grade versus males.
Third Paradigm Reason
The third reason that was used to enhance this experimental study is of the deductive approach used by Slater and Hinds (2014). Deductive approaches involve understanding a phenomenon and aids to de-personalizing from researcher and participant. In this case, the researchers intended to determine the importance of food and nutrition knowledge, and of predicting a theory behind it based on factual content, such as percentages of young adults who lack the knowledge of nutrition and food education. The phenomenon justified in Slater and Hinds (2014) research subjects how the views of males and females varied towards food and nutrition education, and of their overall acclaimed knowledge of the subjectivity.
Why should Home Economics Food and Nutrition education be implemented?
Valuable skills in preparation, organization, and one’s health, are essential in order to proceed into clarified independence of an individual. Food and nutrition education is important to introduce the awareness of students in practicality and readiness of independent living. The next three paragraphs will go into detail of why home economics food and nutrition education should be implemented in present time.
The first reason exemplified involves the helpfulness to young adults in terms of future use. This includes any valuable life skills that an individual acquires. Young adults should be aware of what it takes to be readily prepared for their own living conditions; this includes their dietary needs such as meals, and of the adequate consumption of the food guide recommendations. Slater and Hinds suggest in “re-investing in school-based food and nutrition as a means to re-skill youth and reduce risk of obesity and nutrition-related chronic diseases” (Slater & Hinds, 2014, p. 69). Young adults need to be knowledgeable of not only their dietary needs, but their way of preparation of the foods as well.
The second reason why it should be implemented is to reduce diet-related chronic diseases and of obesity among young adults. The knowledge obtained from the attendance of such classes, is all used in relation to teaching healthy habits to young adults. Therefore the knowledge obtained from these school-based classes, could easily reduce those who may be of higher risk of these diseases in the future. For example, a young adult who attended a home economic food and nutrition class will have significantly more knowledge of health risks compared to a young adult who had not attended.
The third reason is to update the current home economics food and nutrition education system. Not many schools have resources available for the information of food and nutrition classes. As a result, the schools that have these classes implemented are out dated. Slater and Hinds state that home economics “can impart valuable life skills including self-sufficiency and independence, as well as food preparation skills, which may not be taught at home” (Slater & Hinds, 2014, p. 74). This requires updating the HEFN curricula, which involves health professionals or educating instructors or teachers providing the classes.
Joyce Slater and Aynslie Hinds (2014) discussed the underlying relevance of teachings of nutrition and learning towards promoting health. The use of these practical applications can help towards new developments towards new research, current or even ongoing researches. There are three practical applications that aim towards young adults’ and of those in the field of nutrition education, which will be further described in the following paragraphs.
First Practical Application
The first practical application is of how the data analysis collected could be of use to food or drink companies associated with schools. Food and drink companies that are in school based systems, can use the resulting data collection to figure out what certain foods or drinks should be promoted and or eliminated from their choice of selection. This may range from various snack foods, drinks and or advertisements implemented. The data collected via chi-square test can also allow these foods and drink companies to determine which product would be of interest between males and females for example.
Second Practical Application
The second practical application of this research study that could be used for further investigation is of the health professionals involved. For example, dietitians in particular revolve around moving past nutrition barriers by the use of research work. This study may potentially help towards any acknowledged barriers existing when using the phenomena. For example, dietitians could use the categorical results to studies crossing over young adults and food habits.
Third Practical Application
The third practical application is of the overall results implemented into various age groups and schools other than it’s current location. The results are organized varying on views of males and females, as well as various attendances of schools. The table results can be used to further implement the program and questionnaire in other schools and various age groups that one may want to research on. For example this study was based on Canadian rural and urban schools, however it can also be introduced in further areas. The data analysis could also be used to examine younger individuals such as children, rather than just young adults.
This study’s findings show that school-based home economics education based on food and nutrition, is deemed fundamental as an overall key receptor towards self-actualization of an individual. This can be summarized in various ways such as how the classes help with the awareness of students preparing for the future. Preparation, organization, and the readiness of an individual are essential towards the real world when it comes to adulthood. This experimental study has broadened our knowledge of the importance of the teachings offered in HEFN. Home economic education classes are highly underestimated in school-based systems, and many do not have these classes embedded into their school curriculum anymore. There are some schools that have even completely removed the course subject, and have replaced them with other courses deemed more significant. However, it is clearly evident that implementing food and nutrition education can significantly increase the fundamental knowledge of not only the young adults, but the educators and promoters as well. Slater and Hinds (2014) believe that home economics education is essential towards young adult independence later on in life. This also includes the knowledge of what it takes to prepare them from possible diet related illnesses. It is important to realize that being educated in the field of nutrition reduces negative behaviours towards food related choices.
Slater and Hinds (2014) through their research were able to determine a positive correlation between the perspectives of their participants with respect to the discipline of home economics food and nutrition education. Surprisingly, many young adults lack the essential skills to live independently and make the appropriate choices with regards to rational consumption. The results derived from this experimental study indicate how school-based systems should incorporate home economics food and nutrition education in their curriculum. Overall this study shows the importance of home economics food and nutrition education is towards future relations, self-independence, and of reduction of diet based illnesses.
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Research Decisions Quantitative and Mixed-Method Approaches, 5th ed, Palys, T. and Atchison, C., 2013, Nelson Education Ltd. Toronto, Ontario.
Slater, J. & Hinds, A. (2014). University student perceptions of Home Economics: food and nutrition education. International Journal of Home Economics, 7(2): 68-80