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The Research Behind Refresh.ED’s Nutrition Education Resources

Development and implementation of Refresh.ED teaching and professional learning materials is guided by extensive literature review, formative research and evaluation conducted by the Child Health Promotion Research Centre.

Nutrition Education in Schools: Literature Review

Literature search and review addressed five domains:

  1. Existing nutrition curriculum frameworks, programs, materials and resources and how they are taught in schools at state, national and international level.
  2. Theories related to development and change of children’s eating behaviour and how they could be applied in food and nutrition teaching and learning materials.
  3. Evidence surrounding best practice pedagogy to ensure that food and nutrition curriculum materials guide teaching practice, engage students and helps achieve relevant student outcomes.
  4. Methods of teacher professional learning most promising in an online environment.
  5. Implementation frameworks for school-based health promotion to guide whole school and integrated cross-curriculum implementation of food and nutrition materials.

Key Papers: Nutrition Education in Schools

The following key papers and documents were influential in development and implementation of Refresh.ED teaching and professional learning materials:

  • ACARA (2012) The Shape of the Australian Curriculum (version 4). Sydney, Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority Copyright Administration
  • ACARA (2012) Curriculum Design Paper (version 3). Sydney, Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority Copyright Administration
  • Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations for the Council of Australian Governments (2009) Belonging, Being & Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. ACT
  • Capps DK., Crawford BA et al. (2012) A review of empirical literature on inquiry professional development: Alignment with best practices and a critique of the findings. Journal of Science Teacher Education 23(3): 291-318
  • Contento I (2008)  Nutrition education: linking research, theory, and practice. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 17( Suppl 1): 176-179
  • Contento IR, Koch PA et al. (2010) Adolescents demonstrate improvement in obesity risk behaviors after completion of choice, control & change, a curriculum addressing personal agency and autonomous motivation. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 110(12): 1830-1839
  • Domitrovich CE, Bradshaw CP et al. (2008) Maximizing the Implementation Quality of Evidence-Based Preventive Interventions in Schools: A Conceptual Framework. Advances in School Mental Health Promotion 1 (3): 6-28
  • European Food Framework (2013) The Framework. Retrieved from the European Food Framework website:
  • Gibbs R and Poskitt J (2010) Student Engagement in the Middle Years of Schooling (Years 7-10): A Literature Review. Ministry of Education, New Zealand
  • Garet MS, Porter AC et al. (2001) What makes professional development effective? Results from a national sample of teachers. American Educational Research Journal 38(4): 915-945
  • NSW DET (2003) Quality teaching in NSW public schools. Sydney: Department of Education and Training, Professional Support and Curriculum Directorate.
  • Perez-Rodrigo C and Aranceta J (2001) School-based nutrition education: lessons learned and new perspectives. Public Health Nutrition 4(1a): 131-139

Formative Research: Insights from Nutrition & Education Practitioners

Formative research including a stakeholder forum, a Delphi survey and teacher professional learning survey guided application of literature review findings in the West Australian context.

Stakeholder Forum and Delphi Survey

Thirty expert Western Australian practitioners and academics in the fields of nutrition and education participated in a Stakeholder Forum and a two-round Delphi survey to review and refine the scope and sequence of food and nutrition themes and content descriptions derived from the literature.

The resulting food and drink focus areas and scope and sequence of key messages and content descriptions informed the content of Refresh.ED teaching and learning materials.

Teacher survey

A convenience sample of 29 Western Australian pre-service teaching students and practicing teachers were surveyed regarding their food and nutrition professional learning needs and preferences. The survey confirmed literature review findings of need for food and nutrition content information, nutrition teaching skills development and access to networks for sharing lesson plans, experiences, new information and resources. Professional learning directly applicable in the classroom was preferred and free online formats were welcomed for convenience and self-paced learning.

Evaluation & Feedback

Evaluation and feedback related to Refresh.ED materials is critical to ensure materials are readily accessible, meet teaching and learning needs of teachers and students and achieve food and nutrition outcomes.

Pilot testing

Pilot testing of draft Refresh.ED teaching and learning units was undertaken in randomly selected WA schools in 2013.  Participating teachers implemented units in their classrooms then provided feedback on suitability and acceptability for their year group.  Feedback helped to refine unit content, format and teaching and learning strategies.

Similar formative research and pilot testing has occurred to inform development of new Quick Bites resources in 2021.

Process and impact evaluation

Process evaluation to assess teacher awareness of, access to, use, satisfaction with and suitability of the Refresh.ED materials is ongoing. Website analytics and periodic user surveys are used to evaluate resource awareness, utilisation and uptake.

Tri-annual impact evaluation surveys are also conducted to assess the effects of Refresh.ED professional learning and teaching materials on teacher nutrition education attitudes, confidence and practices as well as perceived change in student knowledge, attitudes and skills.

Ethics approval

All research undertaken in relation to Refresh.ED has ethics approval from Edith Cowan University Ethics Committee.  Research and evaluation undertaken in schools is also subject to approval from the relevant Education sector.