Project leader Frøydis N. Vik
Background: There is no organized school meal in Norway and children bring packed lunch from home. Most schools offer a milk prescription program (parent paid) and some schools offer a fruit prescription program (parent paid). Norwegian Guidelines for school meals are launched in 2015. There are socio economic differences among children, and the prevalence of overweight (including obese) among children is 15-20 %, but higher in lower socio-economic classes. The School Meal Project was developed based on the assumption that a healthy free school meal may influence children to eat a meal rich in healthy nutrients and thereby contribute to healthy eating habits – which in turn may contribute to prevention of childhood obesity.
Aims: The overall purpose of The School Meal Project was to evaluate the effect of a free healthy school meal every day for one year on meal pattern, diatary habits at school, learning environment, motivation for learning and weight status among children 10-12 years old.
Methods: The design was a non-randomized intervention with a control group and qualitative in-depth interviews. Children at the age of 10-12 were recruited in two elementary schools in Aust-Agder county, Norway. A total of 164 children participated, 55 in the intervention group and 109 in the control group. One of the parents of each child was invited to participate. At baseline (August 2014) children and parents answered a questionnaire, and the children’s weight, height and waist circumference were measured. The intervention consisted of serving a free cold school meal every day for one year, consisting of whole grain bread, spread, fruit and vegetables according to the dietary guidelines. The measurements were repeated at follow-up 1 (January 2015) and at follow-up 2 (June 2015). Qualitative interviews were performed in fall 2015 with the intervention group to examine feasibility and possible barriers.
The project has resulted in 7 master theses and 3 published papers (Illøkken et al 2017 in SJPH, Vik et al 2019 in BMC Res.Notes, Vik et al 2019 in BMC Public Health). One main finding from the project was that serving a free school meal for one year increased children’s intake of healthy foods, especially among children with lower socio-economic status. This study may contribute to promoting healthy eating and suggests a way forward to reduce health inequalities among school children.
Funding: University of Agder
The teaching in the Food and health subject aims to contribute to promote a healthy lifestyle, gain insight and skills in critically choosing and reflecting on food and meals and stimulate the students to prepare food. When looking into the structure of today's food and health lessons, it mainly consists of practical work with cooking. Comparing this to the aim of the subject, what seems like a common challenge, is to nourish the student's creative abilities and foster critical thinking. Another challenge is to provide children training in making conscious decisions and to motivate them to comply to a healthy lifestyle.
LifeLab- Food and health is a three-year long project which started October 2017. The objective of LifeLab is to develop and evaluate different student active activities for the Food and health subject with the aim at increasing children's knowledge and understanding of the correlation between food and health.
The study uses multiple methods. First, a questionnaire was developed and distributed to all primary and lower secondary schools in Norway. 1170 food and health teachers completed the questionnaire regarding different aspects of the subject. Second, focus group and individual interviews was carried out among school leaders and food and health teachers and students having or just finishing their year of food and health. The aim of the interviews was to gain insight in what challenges there are and what wishes there are to consider when developing the activities. Finally, classroom video and audio recording of the activities were conducted to evaluate the activities which was developed in collaboration with teacher students. These videos are not yet analyzed. The project will finish by September 2020.
The overall purpose of the ‘LØFT’ project is a joint professional effort for healthy eating habits among children in co-creation with students in education programmes at UiA, and stakeholders in the region of Agder in Norway. The project consists of 3 parts. First, we will explore student’s experiences on motivation and perceived learning with entrepreneurial teaching methods. The study sample will be students in courses of nutrition and public health. The second part of the project is to explore stakeholders’, researchers’ and students’ experiences with co-creation in ongoing research projects in the Lifecourse Nutrition Research Center. The third part is to initiate and perform baseline measurements in a new cohort study, aiming to assess children’s diet, starting with 5th graders. The LØFT project started in March 2019 and will be finished by March 2022.
Schools are an important arena for public health actions that aim to prevent lifestyle-related diseases, promote good food habits, health and learning, and decrease differences in food habits and health related to socio-economic and ethnic differences.
This research project aims to determine whether school lunches improve the overall healthiness of children’s diets and learning conditions and explores the children’s main concerns regarding school lunches in a Nordic context.
The knowledge generated by the collaboration can be used to strengthen both practices and policies in a Nordic arena. The project will also help to develop innovative methodologies within educational research related to food and nutrition.
Funding: This project is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers (2013-2016; with data-publishing on-going), within the sub-project "Nutrition, Learning and Health" under the Nordic globalisation initiative "Health and Welfare".
The aim of the ProDiG project (Professional digital competence for students and teacher educators in elementary teacher education, 2018-2020) in the subject Food and Health, is to develop and strengthen the professional digital skills of both university teachers and students in this subject. In their studies of Food and Health, both at the university and in their practice at schools, teacher students will try different digital solutions that promote learning in Food and Health. In this way, newly qualified teachers will be better able to meet both the curriculum and the school's requirements and expectations for professional digital competence.
The LEAD-project (2018-2021) is a project funded by Erasmus+ and consist of a group of teacher educators and researchers in home economics from 4 Nordic-Baltic universities (Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Norway). The LEAD-project has two intertwined intentions. First, to find methods how to implement ICT purposefully in home economics lessons. The innovation lies in a novel understanding of how to effectively use digital technologies in home economics education to promote students learning in a real way. Today, there are few existing pedagogical solutions for home economics teachers to apply in subject teaching. Therefore, LEAD is interested in finding solutions that would give students help during the learning process when constructing knowledge individually or in the group. Second, we are interested in finding innovative ideas for novel learning tasks, where students are experimenting and constructing knowledge. Putting school-learned knowledge into action helps students to transfer their knowledge into practice in everyday situations.
The new Core curriculum-values and principles for the primary and secondary education in Norway has provided three cross-disciplinary topics (Health and life skills, Sustainable development, and Democracy and citizenship), making interdisciplinary teaching crucial in fulfilling the overall aim.
We aim to create in collaboration with four other school subjects, a teaching resource, the Agder-Bergen-Model, which enhances creative learning and provides an interdisciplinary approach to these three new life skill topics, in our project INNO. Teacher students will develop this model and our research team will evaluate its importance and relevance for teacher students’ practice and for students in school. The model, if successful, could be a new way of working in both teacher education and schools, focusing on student active learning.
The main aim of the project is to develop interdisciplinary teaching material in Food and Health and Chemistry and to carry out action research on the project. Ten films are developed that show and explain chemical processes when preparing food. Examples of themes in the films: What makes yeast dough elastic and large? What happens when we fry bread? Why does fruit turn brown?
The Norwegian Association for teachers in food and health applied to the Gjensidige Foundation for financial support to carry out a study to gain insight into how food and health was organized and taught in grade 1-4. The aim of the study was to reveal the competence of those who teach, organization of the teaching and what challenges the teachers have. The findings from this study will be used to develop an in-service training course for teachers, primarily for teachers without formal education in food and health teaching in grade 1-4. A total of 24 interviews were conducted at 12 randomly selected schools from different parts of Norway. Both principals and teachers were interviewed. The study showed that it is quite random who teaches and how the teaching in food and health is carried out at each school.
The overall purpose of the project 'LEARNFOOD' is for the partners to exchange and co-create innovative, pedagogical and didactical approaches to school food in a professional learning network. Ther project involves universities in Sweden and Norway in addition to the University of Agder.
The purpose is based on a social-constructivist conceptual framework that facilitates the establishment of a joint LEARNFOOD network, which from a horizontal and cross-sectoral perspective can contribute to cross-country educational knowledge.
Furthermore, the purpose integrates initiatives to support progress and education for sustainable development (ESD) in accordance with the UN sustainable development goals.
Interdisciplinary competencies are essential in society. Strikingly, development of interdisciplinary teaching and assessment skills is in its infancy in Norwegian teacher training, with fragmented learning outcomes for student teachers and their future students. The recent subject renewal (LK20) in Norwegian primary and lower secondary schools has highlighted this flaw.
The Beans & Fractions (B&F) project acts on this relevance gap. We will develop and implement an interdisciplinary educational entrepreneurship (EE) model in two large teacher training institutions and practice schools and research to foster interdisciplinary skills in teacher education and school the development, implementation experiences and effects of the model using mixed methods approach. We aim to prepare future teachers with interdisciplinary teaching and assessment tools for equipping their students with Health and Life skills (HLS), in line with lifelong learning and the push for deep-learning.
Food & health (i.e. home economics) and Mathematics have a unique opportunity to develop important interdisciplinary skills within food and personal economy, in a public health perspective. Our model includes an innovation week at campus. Interdisciplinary student teachers teams will develop interdisciplinary teaching and assessment plans, testing in schools, and return for a reflection day and further development. The B&F project will significantly advance the field of interdisciplinary teacher training by using EE as a studentactive and innovative learning strategy of HLS. A group of experienced interdisciplinary researchers with track-record of implementing EE will co-create with two school owners and an EE organisation. Teacher educations and practice schools are stakeholders. Student teachers are end-users.
A future goal post-project is to get a transferable teacher training model for other school subjects and interdisciplinary topics. This matches the target of rejuvenating teacher education by propelling the teacher education into the 21st century.
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