Nutrition education and practice | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Nutrition education and practice

Innovating teaching and assessment strategies for the training of future nutrition and dietetic professionals, and nutrition training and beliefs, and professional practice of Australian dietitians and other health professionals.

1. Projects related to nutrition and dietetics education

We have focused our research on the use of innovative approaches and new technologies in our educational strategies for nutrition and dietetics.

Key learning concepts in nutrition and dietetics curriculum 

- Judy Tweedie, Prof Fiona Pelly, Dr Hattie Wright -

New innovative models of curriculum design, such as a concept-based approach constructed around core concepts, could offer a solution to content-laden dietetics curricula. This research project is the first of its kind to identify the core concepts of the dietetics discipline.

  • Tweedie J., Palermo C., Wright H.H., Pelly F. E. (2020). Using document analysis to identify core concepts for dietetics: The first step in promoting conceptual learning. Nursing and Health Sciences; p1– 10.
Competency development and role of WIL

- Prof Pelly, Judy Tweedie, Dr Libby Swanepoel, Dr Jude Maher -

We are interested in how placement experience can contribute competency development of our students

  • Pelly, F., Tweedie, J., Wiesmayr-Freeman, T. (2020). Student placement adaptability during COVID-19: Lessons learnt in 2020. Nutrition and Dietetics, accepted for publication.
  • Maher J., Pelly F., Swanepoel E., Sutakowsky L., Hughes R. (2015) The contribution of clinical placement to nutrition and dietetics competency development: A student-centred approach Nutrition and Dietetics / Vol. 72, No. 2, p.156-162
  • Swanepoel E., Tweedie J., Maher J. (2014). Building dietetic student confidence and professional identity through participation in a university health clinic. Nutrition and Dietetics / Vol. 73, No. 3, pp.229-234
Blended learning

- Dr Sarah Burkhart and Dr Dana Craven -

Dr Burkhart and Dr Craven, with Dr Anita Hamilton (OT), were recipients of a LearnX Live Platinum Best Blended Learning Model Award in 2019 for their use of digital workbooks in the flipped classroom. Key outputs include:

  • Burkhart, S. J., Craven, D. L. (2020). Digital workbooks in flipped nutrition education: student perspectives. Education Sciences, 10 (1), 22;
  • Burkhart, S. J., Taylor, J., Kynn, M. Craven, D., Swanepoel, L. (2020). Undergraduate nutrition students’ engagement with the flipped classroom: A descriptive cohort study. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour. 52(4):394-400. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2019.06.002. Epub 2019 Jul 11.
Integration of sustainability in nutrition and dietetics curriculum

- Dr Sarah Burkhart and Dr Jude Maher -

This project has explored what sustainability means in nutrition practice from the perspectives of students, academics and practitioners. The findings are currently being used to develop a digital learning artefact. Key outputs are:

  • Burkhart, S. J., Verdonck, M., Ashford, T., Maher, J. (2020). Sustainability: Nutrition and dietetic students’ perceptions. Sustainability, 12(3), 1072;
  • Maher, J., Burkhart, S. (2017). Experiential learning for engaging nutrition undergraduates with sustainability. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 18 (7), 1108 - 1122.
Simulation-based learning

- Dr Hattie Wright, Ms Tania Wiesmayr Freeman, Dr Libby Swanepoel -

Simulation-based learning experiences have shown to provide a safe learning environment for health care students to practice and develop their skills. Our discipline have a variety of projects exploring the use of simulation-based learning experiences to aid students in preparation for placement and ultimately enhance employability. Key outputs are:

  • Terton H-U, Smyth G, Wright HH. CliNCare – an educational game: the reasoning behind the graphic choices and their impact on player options. The Computer Games Journal 2020, under review.
  • Wright H & Terton H-U. Report: Development of the CliNCare online serious game. USC, Sippy Downs. 26 May 2020. Open Access.
  • Wright HH, Swanepoel L, Cameron J, Wiesmayr-Freeman. Perceived benefits of a standardised patient simulation in pre-placement dietetic students. Education Sciences 2020, under review.
Train and Sustain

- Prof Fiona Pelly and Judy Tweedie -

Train and Sustain is evaluating a training module developed specifically for this study to assist preceptors (supervisors) of students while on work integrated learning. The project is supported by a USC commissioned grant.

Characteristics of nutrition and dietetics students

- Prof Fiona Pelly, Dr Gary Slater -

Projects have focused on eating behaviours in students. More recently we have been interested in graduate outcomes of our alumni.

  • Rocks, T. Pelly, F ., Slater, G., Martin, L. (2017). Prevalence of Exercise Addiction Symptomology and Disordered Eating in Australian Students Studying Nutrition and Dietetics. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics / Vol. 117, No. 10, pp.1628-1636
  • Rocks, T., Pelly, F., Slater, G J., Martin, L. (2016). The relationship between dietary intake and energy availability, eating attitudes and cognitive restraint in students enrolled in undergraduate nutrition degrees . Appetite / Vol. 107, pp.406-414
  • Rocks, T. Pelly, F., Slater, G., Martin, L. (2017). Eating attitudes and behaviours of students enrolled in undergraduate nutrition and dietetics degrees. Nutrition and Dietetics / Vol. 74, No. 4, pp.381-387
  • Lawrence, K., Pelly, F., Rocks, T (2015). The nutrition knowledge of dietetic undergraduate students: An exploratory study. Nutrition and Dietetics / Vol 59, No 6, pp 754-766
2. Current practice of Australian dietitians and other health professionals

We have a number of projects currently underway that examine the current practice of dietetics in Australia. These include physical activity assessment and advice provided by dietitians, pre-operative nutrition provided after bariatric surgery, practice around refeeding post eating disorders, screening and assessment of malnutrition within the community, and extended scope of practice in gastroenterology.

  • Thurecht, R., Pelly, F., Cooper, S. (2020) The influence of current food and nutrition trends on dietitians' perceptions of the healthiness of packaged food. Public health nutrition / Vol. Article in press
  • Bourne, R., Tweedie, T., Pelly, F (2018). Pre-operative nutritional management of bariatric patients in Australia: The current practice of dietitians. Nutrition and Dietetics, 75, No. 3, pp.316-323
  • Thurecht, R, Pelly, F., Cooper, S (2018). Dietitians’ perception of the healthiness of packaged food. Appetite / Vol. 120, pp.302-309
  • Ryan, D.,Pelly, F | Purcell, E. Exploring extended scope of practice in dietetics: A systems approach (2017) Nutrition and Dietetics / Vol. 74, No. 4, pp.334-340
  • Craven, D., Pelly, F., Isenring, E., Lovell, G (2017). Barriers and enablers to malnutrition screening of community living older adults: a content analysis of survey data by Australian dietitians. Australian Journal of Primary Health / Vol. 23, No. 2, pp.196-201
  • Harper C., Maher, J., Investigating Philosophies Underpinning Dietetic Private Practice. Behavioral sciences. 2017
  • Ryan, D.,Pelly, F., Purcell, E. (2016)The activities of a dietitian-led gastroenterology clinic using extended scope of practice. BMC Health Services Research / Vol. 16, No. 60
  • Craven, D., Pelly, F., Lovell, G (2016). Malnutrition screening of older adults in the community setting: Practices reported by Australian dietitians. Nutrition and Dietetics / Vol. 73, No. 4, pp.383-388
  • Rocks, T., Pelly, F, Wilkinson, P (2014). Nutritional management of anorexia nervosa in children and adolescent inpatients: Current practice of Australian dietitians. Nutr Diet, Vol 71, No 2, 100-107, 2014