Needs assessment and formative evaluation of an online nutrition education eLearning program tailored for SNAP-Ed eligible adults in Georgia
Stotz, Sarah Ann
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This dissertation conducted a needs assessment and formative evaluation to understand user expectations and experience of an innovative online eLearning nutrition education program tailored to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) eligible Georgian adults. A longitudinal mixed-methods case-study design was used to explore a user-centered design based on the priority audiences’ preferences regarding eLearning nutrition education accessibility, literacy, content, format, expectations, and experience with the program. A constructivist epistemology framed this instrumental, single case study. The case was the newly developed eLearning program Food eTalk. Data collection occurred prior to Food eTalk development (needs assessment) and during pilot rollout (formative evaluation) using focus group interviews, individual interviews, self-administered surveys, and a user tracking system. Goals of the needs assessment were to explore accessibility, digital literacy, and preferred content of eLearning programs. Semi-structured key informant interviews with Georgian nutrition education experts utilized a Food eTalk prototype to generate discourse about eLearning. After the needs assessment, development of Food eTalk included a multidisciplinary team such as technical support, eLearning designers, and nutrition experts, and required unique resources such as eLearning authoring software and a learning management system. The eLearning development process included challenges and ‘lessons learned’ for future eLearning development endeavors. Goals of the formative evaluation were to address user expectations and experience with Food eTalk. Major findings indicate SNAP-Ed eligible Georgians have ample smartphone-based Internet access, have high self-efficacy using the Internet, and desire nutrition education content which focuses on disease-specific nutrition education, feeding ‘picky’ children, and recipes centering on Southern cuisine. A key barrier to engagement in eLearning nutrition education programs as suggested by both Georgia-based nutrition educators and SNAP-Ed eligible Georgians, is low motivation to use such a program. To encourage individuals to use this voluntary nutrition education program, it is important the eLearning program format allows for quick access to relevant content as perceived by the priority audience. Inclusion of videos, interactive active features, relevant nutrition education content, and extrinsic incentives are important to increase motivation for user engagement. This research serves as a foundation for evidence-based eLearning nutrition education program development for SNAP-Ed eligible audiences.