Date of Award
Master of Science
Food and Nutrition
The Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education has identified the need for continuous improvement in dietetics education programs (www.eatright.org). Continuous improvement is necessary in order to develop competent dietetic professionals. Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) has had a combined Masters degree and dietetic internship (DI) program since 1989, and has collected surveys every year since 1990 to evaluate graduate students' perceived expertise and growth of knowledge as they progress through the program. Our study sought to contribute to the understanding of the effectiveness of SIUC's combined Masters and DI program, evaluate the strengths of the program and identify areas that need improvement by evaluating changes in students' perceived knowledge and self-reported expertise level over the course of the two year program. Our study found means for each section of the survey show students rated themselves highest in competence on Nutrition and Dietetic Practice for all three time periods the survey was given (before coursework, after coursework, and after supervised practice), and lowest in competence on Legislation and Advocacy before coursework, and on Management before and after practicum. The study also showed students self-reported more competence and expertise as they go through the program. A strength of the program revealed by this study is in the area of teaching legislation and advocacy, and a weakness may be teaching of management skills. The change in patterns of significant pair-wise comparisons is thought to indicate a change in perceived competence for different practice areas over the course of their educational program. From this study, it can be concluded the program is effective in increasing knowledge and competency of its students.
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