Date of Award


Degree Name

Curriculum and Instruction


College of Education

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Campbell, PhD, Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. Lisa A. Heaton, PhD

Third Advisor

Dr. Mary Kathryn Gould, EdD, RDN, LD


The Department of Dietetics at Marshall University is a subcontracting agency with the West Virginia University Extension Service for the purposes of delivering nutrition education to children in low-income schools in a six-county radius in southwestern West Virginia through the Marshall University Nutrition Education Program (NEP). The method of lesson delivery includes an educational model that utilizes both registered dietitians (RD) and dietetic interns. The NEP is evaluated through several methods, including pre-/post-tests, teacher focus groups, and parental feedback surveys. To date, no evaluation has been completed to determine the effectiveness of dietetic interns’ delivery of nutrition education lessons compared to the delivery of lessons by registered dietitians. This dissertation is a retrospective review which examined existing data from pre-/post-tests and teacher focus groups to compare teaching effectiveness of professional-level RD educators and dietetic interns who taught lessons for Marshall’s NEP between August 2016 and March 2018. Through mixed method analysis, this review showed a statistically significant difference in knowledge gain from pre- to post-test, but did not show any difference in student behavioral change. No significant difference between the mean post-test scores from children who were taught by professional-level RD educators versus dietetic interns was found. Several themes emerged from teacher focus groups, including the empowerment of professional-level RDs in the classroom. Professional-level RD educators used this empowerment to encourage taste sampling of foods and to enhance children’s participation in the program. The taste-sampling experience was found to be the most important aspect of the program. This experience was critical to knowledge gain and behavior change of participants. A comparison of these evaluation results will be used to develop a more specific training protocol for dietetic interns and to improve program evaluation through the use of extensively validated pre-/postsurveys for future program evaluation.


Nutrition -- Study and teaching -- West Virginia -- Evaluation.

Poor -- Health and hygiene -- Study and teaching -- West Virginia -- Evaluation.

Marshall University. Department of Dietetics -- Evaluation.