Web-Based Instruction in Learning Nutrition

By ChanLin, Lih-Juan; Huang, Rwei-Fen S. et al. | Journal of Instructional Psychology, March 2003 | Go to article overview

Web-Based Instruction in Learning Nutrition


ChanLin, Lih-Juan, Huang, Rwei-Fen S., Chan, Kung-Chi, Journal of Instructional Psychology


Web-based instruction is a new way of teaching popularly adopted at all levels of schooling and it has drawn a great deal of attention in higher education. Web-based instruction has the potential for improving the quality of education by supporting the dissemination of skills and knowledge in a holistic approach. This paper illustrates how web-based instruction can be used to complement formal instruction of a basic nutrition course. Students' responses toward the learning experience were gathered. Instructional implications related to the use of this mode of learning were addressed.

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With the advent of Internet technology in recent years, various computer-based learning courses employing modern techniques have been developed to assist learning. The appropriate application of the Internet supports the dissemination of skills, and knowledge in a holistic approach, not limited to any particular course, technologies, or infrastructures (Henry, 2001). As the ubiquitous World Wide Web (WWW) becomes widely applied to educational setting, attempts have been made to translate the technological advances into solutions to various school problems. The WWW, with its increasing capacity for multimedia, multimode communication and information presentation, easy access to an ever-growing body of information and new way of data representation, has provided educators with exciting opportunities to enhance teaching and learning (Zhao, 1998). In teaching nutrition and health issues, web-based instruction also provides various options for experiential learning.

The WWW is multimedia and hypertext by its very nature (Stover & Zink, 1996). In learning nutrition and health knowledge, it allows users to search learning resources or databases to fulfill their learning curiosity and accomplish their learning tasks. WWW is also a visual learning tool for providing food and nutrition content. When viewing a home page, the user can click icons or buttons to view graphics, pictures, text, and video. With various learning supports available on the web-based environment, WWW offers a popular learning tool for nutrition education, and an increasing number of efforts have been directed to promoting more widespread effective uses of technology.

In this study, the web-based learning approach was integrated into a traditional nutrition course. Web-based instruction was provided, aiming to encourage students to use the Internet as a tool for learning nutrition content. With the already developed resources on food, and a task-oriented approach employed in class, students interacted actively with related resources available on the web. This paper reports how web-based instruction was developed and applied, and how students reacted to web-based learning.

Instructional Application The success of computer-based learning has been demonstrated in the training of dieticians for many years (Shah, George, & Himburg, 1999). Complementing formal instruction, computer-based instruction has been applied to meet general didactic curriculum requirements and the American Dietetic Association Standards of Education for Foundation Knowledge and Skills for entry-level dieticians. Other than dietetics, computer-based instruction has been implemented successfully in the training of professionals in some health fields. For example, it has been employed as self-study tools to improve learning and retention of fundamental concepts and clinical thinking skills (Shah, George, & Himburg, 1999).

During recent years, the Internet technology has changed ways of learning. Traditional computer-assisted nutritional instruction has shifted from providing a standalone individual learning to the web-based learning environment. In a web-based nutrition course, the student's use of computer and Internet technology to facilitate learning is emphasized. Also, information is received and assimilated at a pace set by the user. …

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