We have all had the experience of sitting through a dry and boring lesson or reading what we thought was a boring book, as compared to a stimulating and exciting one. During a dry and boring lesson whether taught or read we make little effort to change our behavior. During a stimulating and exciting lesson, we retain a portion of what was taught or read and are motivated to change at least some aspect of our behavior. Our goal as nutrition educators is to present the information we teach in a way that is stimulating, exciting, and fun.
The ultimate goal of nutrition education is to influence people to change to healthier diets and ultimately to sustain that change. That means that as educators we provide information to increase participants knowledge and skills but, more importantly, we assist the participant in integrating this knowledge and information into new attitudes, dietary choices, and behaviors in his/her total environment. It is a challenging task because, as we know, behavior change is not easy.
Some educators think that if they ‘teach’ something the audience or individual automatically ‘learns.’ An educator may do a fantastic job of ‘teaching’ a participant all the dietary guidelines and how they can help one make wise food choices. However, if the participant was not actively involved in ‘learning’ he/she may not make any connection between what was taught and his/her own food choices. Knowledge alone does not lead to a change in behavior.
Clearly, the more visual cues we as teachers can give while teaching, the more effective we will be. All of the senses are important for different requirements. Learning or change really begins when the learner can receive organized and meaningful information from as many senses as possible. As Confucius said: “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” Clearly, this is to say the more active we make the experience and the more we involve the participants in the learning process, the more they will retain.
For more information contact Lethia Lee, EFNEP Assistant with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at 910-592-7161.