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Can Clickers Improve the Nutrition Education Experience?

The Issue

Nutrition education is an important part of improving the diets of Californians. Despite public awareness about the role of good dietary habits on health, most are not following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

UC CalFresh, a University of California program, offers nutrition education to low-income families, youth, and seniors throughout California. The goal is to help people make healthy food choices within limited budgets. UC CalFresh educators collect evaluation data using paper forms, but about 25 percent of participants do not complete the forms, making it difficult to assess participants' intent to change their eating habits. Innovative strategies to collect data could help participants assess healthful food choices and recognize how they spend their food dollars.

What Has ANR Done?

UC CalFresh tested "clicker technology" in 2011 to increase participants' ability to self-assess their food-related habits. Clicker technology uses an interactive PowerPoint coupled with individual handheld devices (clickers) that participants use to answer questions. This technology allows educators to read questions to the class and verify that all participants respond before the results are displayed. Clickers were also used to collect demographic and evaluation data and to assess ease of use and participant satisfaction.

The Payoff

Clickers Enhanced the Experience

The use of clickers resulted in a 100-percent response rate, collection of accurate demographic data, and easier evaluation of the effectiveness of program delivery. The instantaneous display of results provided immediate feedback to the participants and educators.

The educators agreed that clicker technology is more interactive for participants, resulting in high participant satisfaction (94 percent of workshop attendees agreed that clickers were inviting and easy to use; 86 percent recommended their use in future classes). More UC CalFresh programs will use the clicker technology to collect data in adult programs. Additional plans include testing clickers with non-English-speaking adults and youth at school sites in the UC CalFresh program.

Using an interactive tool to assess participant understanding of nutrition and food budgeting topics may increase knowledge retention, lead to improved diets, and better health outcomes.


Supporting Unit:

Jennifer Culp,Project coordinator, (530)754-7794, jbculp@ucdavis.edu
Anna Martin, NFCS advisor, (209) 953-6121, acmartin@ucdavis.edu

Marisa Neelon, NFCS advisor, (925) 646-6128, mqneelon@ucdavis.edu