Health status of the respondents

Our target audience is adults of both genders who have noted nutritional problems. A pre-assessment quiz was sent out to the target population. This Food Guide Pyramid questionnaire contained questions seeking information on the nutritional awareness, eating habits and health status of the respondents. From the data provided by responses to the questionnaire certain nutritional trends were noted.

The learning seminar was therefore designed with three specific objectives – to sensitize these individuals on the content and purpose of the Food Guide Pyramid, to help them develop proper nutritional management skills and to instill an appreciation for the value of healthy nutritional practices. Several theoretical positions on the nature of the learner and corresponding teacher/learner roles in instruction informed instructional decisions for the delivery of a nutritional unit on the American Food Guide Pyramid to adults with nutritional problems.

Androgogy, the theory of adult learning, posits that these learners need to understand the purpose of instruction and must be able to direct their own learning. Adult learners must be able to bring previous experiences into the learning situation. Adults must also see the need for learning and their learning style must be considered. In addition there must be motivation to learn (Huang, 2002, p. 29). Androgogy presupposes a constructivist approach to adult learning. Constructivism, as put forward by theorists such as Dewey, views learning as coming about based on experiences.

This view of adult learning sees learners experiencing situations that are representative of their real life environment where interaction is constant. Adult education must therefore seek to involve the learner in authentic and active experiences providing interaction with or among other learners. Learning therefore occurs based on these experiences and in turn new experiences are created by the learning environment (Huang, 2002, p. 28). There is another constructivist view of learning as problem-solving.

Learning is seen as providing situations for learners to solve problems related to their own experiences or real life problems. Adults learn more effectively when they discover novel ways of addressing pertinent life situations (Huang, 2002, p. 29). Further Laine (2003) suggests that information communication technologies are adaptable to adult learning situations that require interaction between and among learners and facilitators. These learning tools are particularly attractive to adult learners because they are user friendly and, once properly designed, quite appealing.

Laine (2003) however cautions that e-learning strategies are more effective when used in combination with other strategies. Additionally Laine (2003) also notes that adult learners prefer learning situations that make efficient use of time and therefore not particularly lengthy. Bearing in mind these considerations an interactive session with the assistance of an engaging power-point presentation was chosen for delivering the content to the adult audience. E-learning mechanisms are increasingly being used for training and other learning purposes.

Among the criticisms that have been made of these systems is their separation from human contact and interaction. Heeding the advice of Laine (2003), the power-point presentation was designed to work along face-to-face presentations and group discussions. Further these objectives can be achieved quicker with the assistance information technology, specifically the power-point presentation (Hofmann, 2004). Acknowledging the fundamentals of androgogy which gives independence and authority to the learner, the needs of the particular group of learners were used as the basis for determining the specific focus of instruction.

Based on the details evidenced in the Food Guide Pyramid questionnaire, the specific areas in which adults lacked the requisite knowledge or skills to be addressed were chosen as the points of emphasis during instruction. Of course the nutritional weaknesses discovered from the questionnaire are pointed out to the learners so they realize that there is indeed a problem with their nutrition and therefore commit more readily to changing (Huang, 2002).

Considering that adult learners prefer interaction and that the power-point alone is not adequate to supply this element, instruction is so designed to provide for interaction among the learners and between the learners and the facilitators. Discussion questions are worked into the presentation so that the adult learners have the opportunity to discuss issues in small and large groups. Interaction is further enhanced by the facilitators who take on the role of different elements of the Food Guide Pyramid. The delivery of the information contained within the power point presentation is in itself quite interactive.

Learners are able to relate directly to the facilitator in raising concerns and addressing issues. Thus interaction is a fundamental aspect of the delivery on the nutritional and health content of the Food Guide Pyramid. In agreement with the position that the experiences of the adults need to be incorporated in instruction, the instructional approach adopted for this unit emphasizes the use of real life experiences as points of illustration during instruction. Adult learners discuss personal or known experiences in an attempt to better comprehend nutritional choices that people make.

These experiences are essential to effective presentation of the topic of nutritional health and are indispensable during instruction. By interacting with the experiences of other adult learners new learning situations are created and learning is even further enhanced. The experiences that are discussed in the classroom also provide the opportunity for using problem-solving techniques in instructional delivery. The problem of poor nutritional practices among these adults is the focal point of discussion. The general objective of instruction on the Food Guide Pyramid is to influence a change in behavior from a problematic situation.

Problem-solving is therefore the ultimate goal of instruction and this objective therefore guides assessment procedures. Informally and throughout the presentation, learners are granted the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of key concepts by responding to random questions posed by the facilitators. Questions range from those aiming to discover simple knowledge and recall (such as the amount of servings of whole grains on a daily basis), to more higher-order questions that are often provocative (analyze the benefits and drawbacks of a vegetarian diet).

The primary assessment tool employed to determine if the learning outcomes were accomplished is the creation of a personal nutritional intake health plan following the guidelines of the Food Guide Pyramid and considering their own demographic factors such as age and sex as well as activity level. The food plan would be assessed based on its accuracy in representing the requirements for particularly age-group, sex and activity level.

Additionally learners would demonstrate commitment to the principles of the Food Guide Pyramid and plan to make lifestyle adjustments as the avenue for improved living.


Hofmann, J. (2004, Jan). Teaching online is like teaching after lunch: How to pump up low participation. T & D, 19-21. Huang, H. (2002). Toward constructivism for adult learners in online learning environments. British Journal of Educational Technology, 33(1), 27–37. Laine, L. (2003, June). Is E-Learning effective for IT training. T & D, 55-59.

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