Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Ecology

Major Professor

Betty L. Beach

Committee Members

Ada Marie Campbell, Louis Ehrcke, John R. Ray


An instructional unit utilizing computer-assisted instruction was developed, implemented, and evaluated for teaching the application of information concerning sociocultural food behaviors to the individualization of diet modifications. The instructional unit was administered to professional level dietetic students in the Coordinated Undergraduate Program in Dietetics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The instructional unit included a pretest for prerequisite knowledge, three simulated dietary counseling sessions, and a dietary counseling session with an actual patient. The simulated dietary counseling sessions were presented via computer-assisted instruction (CAI) and the effectiveness of the instructional unit was assessed by content analysis procedures.

Hypothetical medical charts and simulated dietary counseling sessions for three patients with adult-onset, noninsulin dependent diabetes were developed to give students experience in individualizing patient care. Each simulated patient had different sociocultural characteristics. Students completed nutritional care plans and CAI dietary counseling sessions for the simulated patients prior to completing a nutritional care plan and dietary counseling session for an actual patient at a local out-patient clinic.

Content analysis procedures were developed for quantifying the content of nutritional care plans and dietary counseling sessions. Seven subject matter categories relevant to sociocultural and physical factors to be considered when planning the nutritional care of individuals were identified. The categories were designated as cultural, economic, psychological, religious, social, miscellaneous, and physical. The average score of six coders was used in determining the content of the nutritional care plans and counseling sessions.

Prior to the instructional unit, one-third of the students considered only physical needs of the patient in planning dietary care for that patient. All students identified and utilized both physical and sociocultural factors related to the dietary care of the simulated patients. Following the CAI, all but one student considered both sociocultural and physical factors in planning the dietary care of the actual patient.

The greatest transfer from the CAI to the actual situations was in the content under the cultural and economic categories. Data did not indicate any carry over of content in the category concerning religious needs of the patient.

The results of the content analysis indicated that the students utilized more sociocultural considerations in developing plans for the dietary care of patients following the computer counseling sessions than were used prior to the computer counseling sessions. The instructional unit was determined to be effective in teaching students to individualize patient dietary care.

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