Has the Time Come to Start a Dialogue About the Role of Nutrition and Our Inner Microbiomes In Education? Teacher and Faculty Perspectives

by Abour H. Cherif, Ph.D., Dianne M. Jedlicka, PhD. , Sana Kassem, M.Ed. , JoElla E. Siuda, Ph.D. , Evangelia Christoforatou, MD, Ph.D. , Stefanos Gialamas, Ph.D. , Farahnaz Movahedzad, Ph.D. 

published in the Journal of Education and Practice, Vol.9, No.33, 2018

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to determine if educational professionals at the high school and college levels believe that their students should be required to complete a Health and Nutrition and/or a Microbiology course for graduation. The study used both a descriptive survey and a questionnaire as data collection instruments. The study population was comprised of 655 teachers and instructors from high schools, colleges and universities across the U.S.A. Quantitative analysis was conducted using descriptive statistics. Qualitative analysis of open ended responses was organized into multiple themes. While all the participants strongly agreed that our nation (U.S.A.) is facing critical challenges in overcoming the new trends in obesity, diabetes, infectious diseases and other related epidemics, as well as on the role of education in solving the matters, they differ on what to do and how to prepare the current and future generations. At the college level, while over half of all the participants (61.22%) preferred to see Microbiology as a part of the graduation requirement from college, only 41.22% of the same participants felt comfortable in making Nutrition a part of the graduation requirement. At the high school level, while 42.59% of all the participants saw no problem in including Nutrition as a part of the graduation requirement from high school, only 10.53% of the same participants felt comfortable including Microbiology as a graduation requirement from high school. More detailed outcomes are presented in this paper. However, more participating college instructors compared to high school teachers did not think either of the topics should be mandated for graduation from high school or college; the only exception would be if these two fields of study were part of their selected academic program. Instead, this group of participants suggested making changes to existing course design and content (such as the required “health” or Biology classes), which would offer valuable additions to the existing curriculum and prepare students in health and nutrition. Finally, almost all of the participants provided various reasons and justifications for their perspectives on the matter. The study also shows a significant role for administrators and academic leaders in this requirement process (decision making process for the curricula). Recommendations based on the findings are provided and discussed below.

Keywords: General education, Nutrition, Microbiology, Human Microbiomes, Obesity, Diabetes, Illness prevention, Infectious diseases, Education, burden of disease, educational reform.

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