Development of Game used in Measuring Nutrition Knowledge

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Chapter 3 Methods Development of Game used in Measuring Nutrition Knowledge

A game was developed for use in assessing nutrition knowledge of preschool age children. A set of 12 drawings with a variety of nutrition subjects that could be used in a “Lotto” t ype game or a “Memor y” t ype game was designed (Appendix C). The pictures were randomly selected from nutrition topics covered in the curriculum guides described earlier. The pictures included nine foods from the fruit, vegetable, breads and cereals, and milk products food groups as well as one picture each representing hand washing, growth and a sweet snack. All of the foods except the cake and the noodles were on the list of familiar foods developed by Torisky (36) from a survey of parents of preschoolers in a similar population.
The games were designed so that the format would be familiar to preschool children. The style of the games is similar to other games available to early childhood educators (37, 38, 39). “Lotto” games in current catalogs have boards with six, nine or twelve pictures. “Memor y” games have as many as 36 pictures in pairs, but teachers often choose to play with a smaller number of pairs, especially for preschool children.
One type of game, a “Memor y” t ype game is played with a deck containing two cards with each picture (Appendix C). The « Memory » type game developed for this purpose has 24 cards, two each for 12 pictures representing food and nutrition concepts described above. The cards are shuffled and placed face down in rows on a surface. Each player, in turn, turns over one and then another card in attempting to turn over two identical cards. If the cards are not identical, the cards are returned to a face down position, and the next player attempts to make a match. Memory of the various pictures’ positions aids in making matches.
During the data collection the game was used in the “Lotto” form exclusivel y. A “Lotto” t ype game which is popular with younger preschool children is played with a game board for each player and a set of shuffled face-down cards (Appendix C). The cards are drawn from the deck one at a time by players in turn. The cards are then placed on the game boards on top of the matching picture. The object of the game is to fill up the game boards. Although this game is played with many variations on the basic rules, any variation would provide an opportunity for the pictures to be seen and discussed. The teacher played with one of the game boards just as if the teacher and the child were playing the game without the interview. This allowed a card with each picture to be drawn twice so that it could be talked about twice.

Development of Interview Questions and Procedure

When the assessment was originally planned, questions were designed for each of the 12 pictures. In initial trial uses of the game and interview questions, asking the questions and recording the child’s responses were so time consuming that progression of the game was slowed. The game would not have progressed at the speed of game playing with which the child is familiar in the classroom. Therefore, the questions were then limited to one food group, vegetables. The writer’s choice of vegetables was related to her experience with food choices of high school students. Vegetables are the least accepted food group and the area of foods and nutrition study to which many students offer the most resistance.
The pictures from the vegetable group include a plate of green beans, a raw carrot and french fries in a fast food type container. Questions developed to accompany pictures in the games (Appendix D) were selected from concepts suggested by Herr (25) and Hertzler (23) and behavioral objectives in the vegetable related activities in A Preschool Nutrition Education Curriculum (25) and the Head Start Nutrition Education Curriculum (40). In addition to identification of the three vegetables, concepts tested include:

  • The ve getable group includes green beans, carrots and potatoes as well as others.
  • Ve getables come from plants.
  • Ve getables are prepared and eaten in many forms.
  • Preparation of ve getables may include washing, cutting, peeling and/or cooking before eating.
  • Ve getables help the body grow, have energy and be healthy.
  • Ve getables help the body have healthy skin & eyes.

Identical questions were asked about each of the vegetables, french fries, carrots and green beans.
The questions related to classification were:

  • What food group do french fries (carrots or green beans) belong in?
  • What kind of food is french fries (carrots or green beans)?

The source question was:

  • Where do french fries (carrots or green beans) come from?

The preparation questions were:

  • Tell me about fixing this food.
  • How do you get this food ready so it is safe to eat?

The question related to use by the body was:

  • What do french fries (carrots or green beans) do for your body?

The nutrition questions were printed on a 5″ x 8″ index card for use with each child (Appendix D). The card could be easily held by a teacher to use as a response sheet while playing the game in a classroom setting. One side of the card contained space for the child’s name, age, school, beginning and ending times and longer comments such as “M y mom cooks yummy carrots.”
The response sheet included several possible answers for the questions. These possible answers were based on responses children gave during the pilot test and in other classroom activities. They were included as a convenience for the teachers rather than an indication of correct responses that should be given. There was a small space for writing in an answer that did not fit the possible responses exactly.
The game was designed to be played by teacher (high school student) and child in an ordinary classroom setting, most commonly at a games and manipulatives learning center during a free-choice time period. The questions were designed to be asked in any food order since cards would appear in a random order during the game playing.
As each of the cards was turned over the child was prompted to identify the food. The teachers (high school students) were instructed to model identifying the cards they drew by saying “M y card has the cake” or a similar statement so that the children mi ght start doing the same. If the child did not identify the food, the teachers were told to ask “What is on your card?” or “What is that food?” If the child did not identif y the food correctly, the teacher (high school student) was instructed to tell the child what food it was. Next, the child was asked the questions about the food. If the child became impatient with the questions and wanted to move on with the game, some of the questions were asked the next time the card appeared, since each card appeared twice in each game.

Preschool Children

The preschool children selected for testing ranged from 3 to 5 years of age. There were also five two and one-half-year old children in the class of one of the teachers who were included in the study. The sample of children is described in Table 1. The children were chosen because they were in the class where each participating high school student worked as a teacher’s aide. The high school students had all been working in their prospective centers longer than six months. The children were enrolled in a the half-day preschool at the high school, or one of four full-day child care centers in the Reston/Herndon, VA community (Appendix G). As a group the children were representative of the ethnic and economic mixture of the community (Table 1). Demo-graphic information for the community is shown in Tables 2 and 3. Directors of three of the centers indicated to the writer that the centers served parents of a variety of income levels. One of the centers (designated as Class 5 in Results) is supported by a charity organization in the com-munity and provides subsidized child care to low income families. All of these centers are child care facilities which have hired students from this high school in cooperative education programs. Administrators of each of the schools gave permission for the study to be carried out in the school (Appendix H). The parents of the children were told about the project. No parents objected to the children’s participation. The high school students had all been working in their prospective centers longer than six months and knew the children well.

High School Students

The high school students chosen for administering this study were 11th and 12th grade students enrolled in an Occupational Child Care I and II class taught by the writer. The curriculum includes the basics of child development, developmentally appropriate practice in the care of preschool children, and operation of preschools and child care facilities. As high school students, they serve as teachers, assistant teachers and aides as well complete food preparation and clerical duties in preschool facilities housed in high schools. While some of the students are exploring career choices, many are seriously considering entering the child care field after high school or continuing their education in elementary or early childhood education or related fields at the university level. They are learning to teach nutrition and health as well as language, math, social studies, science, art and music to the preschool children.
High school students are not generally considered to be well-informed on nutrition (43, 44). However, the use of teenagers to teach younger children nutrition has been documented in the literature (45). In one successful program the teenagers’ knowledge increased significantly as a result of the training and work with younger children. In the writer’s experience high school students in the class have not demonstrated a high degree of nutrition knowledge, but they show willingness to prepare and present lessons on foods and nutrition for the preschool children.
The Child Care I and II students were enrolled at South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia. A total of 18 students were enrolled in the 1996-1997 school year. The class participated in a lesson on assessment (Appendix E) which covered the basics of assessment theory. The students who were invited to participate were those students who had performed well in the preschool they operate, had successfully completed other class assignments and had career goals related to early childhood education. Four students out of the 18 were invited to participate in the study because they had been employed as teacher’s aides in child care centers in the community for longer than six months. The fifth student who participated in the study working with the children in the preschool at South Lakes was enrolled in Occupational Child Care II. The students who agreed to help with the study were further trained in using the game and questions. In the training session the game and interview techniques were demonstrated by the writer, and high school students practiced with each other and the writer (Appendix F).

Training and Pilot Test

The game and interview were tested during the spring of 1996. During free choice time on a preschool day after the training, the high school students alternated as the teacher in charge at the games and manipulatives learning center. The students played the game with one child and recorded the child’s responses to three questions for each of 3 food items. The writer observed the game and interview and recorded all of the questions and responses. The written record and the cards marked with checks and comments were compared to assure that the high school students were recording the responses accurately. Variations in the writer’s notes and the response cards were used to discuss and clarify misunderstanding about what should be recorded. The writer and the high school students discussed whether more questions than the original three for each food item could be asked. As a result of the discussion and need to make questions for each vegetable consistent to facilitate analysis of results, several questions were added. The test resulted in seven questions for each food dealing with concepts of identification, classification, origination, preparation, and use in the body.
High school students also had an opportunity to ask questions about techniques and recount difficulties they had. Changes were made in the pictures to help recognition. Milk changed from a paper carton to a glass of white liquid. Each student tested another child several days later. The students expressed that they felt comfortable with the procedures during their second test with a preschool child.
During the winter 1997, training was reviewed with two students who participated in the pilot, and three additional students were trained (Appendix F). Procedures were reviewed immediately before actual collection of data.

Chapter 1 Purpose 
Chapter 2 Review of Literature
Preschool Nutrition Education
Overview of Assessment
Development of Curriculum
Previous Studies Measuring Preschooler’s Nutrition Knowledge
Chapter 3 Methods 
Development of Game used in Measuring Nutrition Knowledge
Development of Interview Questions
High School Students
Training and Pilot Test
Data Collection
Data Analysis
Chapter 4 Results
Chapter 5 Discussion
Comparison with Other Research
Value of Classroom Teacher Administered Assessment
Chapter 6 Summary 
Literature Cited

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