Teaching Style Preferences of Nutrition Education Assistants for Cooperative Extension Systems in the Southern Region
Type of DegreeDissertation
Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology
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Extension provides non-formal education and learning activities to people throughout the country. The largest non-formal adult education organization in the world, Cooperative Extension takes knowledge gained through research and education directly to the community to create positive changes. Through the use of paraprofessionals, Extension is able to extend its resources to better meet the needs of limited resource individuals and families. Indigenous to the target audience, paraprofessionals provide a more effective way to engage at-risk communities. Although paraprofessionals are provided initial training and usually have some knowledge of the content area, a bachelor’s degree is not required for employment. To develop and maintain high-quality nutrition paraprofessionals, this study sought to examine the preferred teaching style of Nutrition Education Assistants (NEAs). Additionally, this study examined NEAs attitudes toward teaching adults and their knowledge regarding basic adult education principles and practices. The Principles of Adult Learning Scale (PALS) was used to describe the preferred teaching style of Nutrition Education paraprofessionals employed by Extension Systems throughout the Southern Region of the United States as either teacher-centered or learner-centered. Results indicated that NEAs preferred a more teacher-centered style of instruction. While the attitudes of NEAs toward their role as adult educators were neutral to slightly positive, their knowledge level of basic adult education principles and practices was found to be low. Information from this study can guide and direct hiring practices and training of nutrition paraprofessionals and enhance future nutrition education programs.