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Title:Development and evaluation of a hands-on culinary education program for youth
Author(s):Metcalfe, Jessica Jarick
Director of Research:Fiese, Barbara
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Fiese, Barbara
Doctoral Committee Member(s):McCaffrey, Jennifer; Hughes, Robert; McBride, Brent
Department / Program:Human Dvlpmt & Family Studies
Discipline:Human Dvlpmt & Family Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Community based interventions, nutrition and culinary education, hands-on learning, youth audiences
Abstract:The vast majority of American youth consume unhealthy diets and do not meet national nutrition recommendations. Participation in cooking and food preparation is associated with healthy dietary behaviors for individuals of all ages, likely because home cooked foods tend to be healthier than pre-prepared alternatives. Societal level declines in cooking behaviors and skills in recent decades have made decreased the likelihood that children will learn how to cook at home or in school. In response to these findings, many researchers advocate for the increased provision of hands-on cooking programs with youth audiences. The Illinois Junior Chefs (IJC) Program was developed to address concerns of minimal cooking skills and unhealthy dietary intake among low-resource youth. Principles from Social Cognitive Theory and Implementation Science informed both the development of the program and the evaluation methodology. Pre- and post-intervention data were collected through IJC surveys (which measured participants’ cooking self-efficacy, cooking attitudes, fruit and vegetable preferences, cooking behaviors, and healthy eating behaviors). A novel observational protocol was also developed to allow for observational assessment of hands-on assessment of participants’ cooking skills (mixing skills, measuring skills, using a peeler, using a grater, and cracking eggs) pre- and post-intervention. The full analytic sample included 591 participants aged 8-13, and the skills testing assessment was performed with a subgroup of 37 participants. Study findings showed that participants experienced significant improvements in cooking self-efficacy, cooking attitudes, fruit and vegetable preferences, and cooking behaviors, with males experiencing slightly stronger program outcomes than females. All hands-on cooking skills also improved significantly from pre- to post-intervention. Investigation of implementation effects revealed that programs delivered over consecutive days were generally more effective than non-consecutive lessons, teen teachers did not have an effect on program outcomes, and additional hours of programming beyond the minimum of 10 hours had a negative impact on program outcomes. This study demonstrated that participation in the IJC Program results in significant improvements in cooking self-efficacy, cooking attitudes, fruit and vegetable preferences, cooking behaviors, and hands-on cooking skills. These findings support the notion that hands-on culinary education can have a strong positive influence on psychosocial predictors of dietary behaviors in youth.
Issue Date:2018-12-18
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Jessica Jarick Metcalfe
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05

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