Design, implementation, and evaluation of a collaborative online case-based learning curriculum about obesity prevention and treatment
Bignell, Whitney Elaine
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Obesity continues to be a major public health issue within the United States, as approximately 35% of adults and 17% of children and adolescents were considered obese in 2011-2012. Health care providers are uniquely positioned to address obesity through client encounters, but many do not feel confident in their skills to counsel patients. Dietitians can be effective members of the weight management team because of their skills in utilizing the Nutrition Care Process to assess multiple factors, prioritize nutrition diagnoses, implement appropriate interventions, and monitor and evaluate outcomes. Therefore, it is important for undergraduate nutrition programs to provide a comprehensive overview of obesity prevention and treatment in their curriculum. However, many programs face time and budget constraints to provide additional material within the current curriculum. A possible solution is online case-based learning that facilitates learning through realistic cases. The purpose of this study was to design and implement four online collaborative case-based learning modules about obesity prevention and treatment and determine changes in student knowledge about obesity management and satisfaction with educational strategy after participating in an online facilitated, scaffolded, asynchronous, collaborative case-based learning (CBL) module. There was a significant change in knowledge for students participating in the online module in a general life cycle nutrition class (10.2%, p <0.001) and in the medical nutrition therapy I class, which was compared to a paper-based case study group (6.5% vs. -0.6%, p = 0.05). Participants in all modules expressed satisfaction with the content of the modules if not the logistical issues of utilizing the learning management system. Overall, online collaborative case-based learning was at least as effective as paper-based case studies for teaching students about obesity prevention and treatment, and students were satisfied with their learning experience.