Lessons Learned from Flipping a Nutrition Education Service-Learning Course

Concurrent Session 3

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This presentation will describe the lessons learned from a project where an instructional designer and faculty member flipped a service-learning course for nutrition educators.  Seven online modules were developed and implemented in the Spring 2019 course. Student feedback was obtained and used to make revisions.


Jessica is a Lead Instructional Designer working with Distance Education and Learning Technology Applications (DELTA) and the Department of Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Sciences (FBNS). She provides instructional design and project management knowledge in order to provide solutions to instructional challenges. She works with faculty members and the new media team at DELTA to design, develop and evaluate innovative online and face-to-face courses. Before joining DELTA, Jessica taught at a private college for several years before working for a non-profit organization and as a government contractor. In her prior roles, she developed a multitude of courses, taught adults in a variety of business-related topics such as professional development and designed training programs. Jessica holds an Ed.S. in Instructional Design and Technology and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership.

Extended Abstract


The Nutrition Science program is housed within the Department of Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Science (FBNS) at NC State.  One of the goals for the Nutrition Science program is to assist students in developing the ability to disseminate nutrition science knowledge to community partners and the public.  The most effective way to allow students the opportunity to apply this information is through service-learning programs. Service-learning combines academic content and relevant service within the community while allowing students to critically reflect upon their learning. These programs are classified as high impact experiences for undergraduate students and meet the mission of NC State as a land grant university.

The professor teaching the course desired to adapt the course to ensure it had a greater impact on students and the community.  As a land grant university, professors seek opportunities to educate the public, and service-learning allows students to educate the public while practicing their nutrition education skills.  Informal focus group data obtained in previous courses indicated that students desired to learn more about and work with different age and racial or ethnic groups.

In 2017, a Distance Education (DE) Grant program for the department (FBNS) was established.  With this program, two departmental faculty are selected each year to work one-on-one with an instructional designer to create new distance education courses, redesign current distance education courses, or in this instance, create a flipped course to provide students an opportunity to complete some of their learning via a distance education course.  The professor and a few colleagues wanted to redesign the course to allow for more student enrollment, more in-depth learning, and addition of material related to diverse populations. As a result, the desire to create a revised course in a flipped format was born. A proposal was submitted and approved to work with the departmental instructional designer in flipping this service-learning course.  The revised and flipped course format included some of the previous topics and materials from the original course, but also incorporated opportunities for students to engage with three diverse audiences: school-aged children, refugees, and senior adults.

The course was flipped during Spring, Summer, and Fall 2018 to be used in the Spring 2019 course.  To ensure students received knowledge to work with members of various communities and ethnic backgrounds before engaging with them in the community, a designated “lab” time and class time were scheduled.  The pre-service-learning (pre-SL) online modules were completed during the students’ “lab” time. After the “lab,” students met in person for a 1-hour critical reflection meeting each week. During the first few weeks of the semester, students completed the following online modules:  Service-Learning & Critical Reflection, Teamwork & Teaching, Cultural Foods & Cultural Competency, and Conflict Management & Knife Skills. Students were assigned to groups on the first day of class and worked with a different community group every three weeks in a rotating fashion (i.e., refugees, school-aged children, older adults).  Before working with their respective group, they were required to complete the online modules related to the following diverse populations: School-aged Children, Refugees, and Older Adults.

After teaching the pilot course in Spring 2019, lessons were learned from observations and student feedback throughout the semester.  The main lessons learned included, but were not limited to the following:

  • Flipped classroom approach assisted students in learning at their own speed.

  • The use of 360 videos allowed students to explore what being in an actual classroom may be like.

  • Students need to be required to complete the online modules before coming to the lab so they can use their lab time to collaborate and plan activities with their teammates.

  • Some online modules did not work the way they were intended based on initial setup.

  • Students desired feedback on lesson plans and other community-focused assignments and requested the possibility of submitting these items earlier.

  • Some of the conflict management videos provided within the Conflict Management & Knife Skills module allowed the students to think, but they were unable to see how conflict may lead to different outcomes in the classroom.

  • More examples of articulated learning critical reflection papers were desired so students knew what to expect from the beginning of the semester.

  • Students desired more knowledge regarding their refugee families before meeting with them.

  • Student purchasing of food for nutrition lessons was difficult for lower SES students and a logistical nightmare when submitting receipts.

  • Additional reflection time was needed at the end of the semester in order to learn from other classmates who had different team learning experiences.

  • E-learning software options used may be too advanced and confusing.  

Project Description

The project completed by the faculty member and departmental instructional designer sought to redesign a service-learning course into a blended format where students could complete online modules before going into the community to complete their service-learning requirements.  The goals of the project were to complete the following:

  • Develop a blended course where students complete several online pre-SL training modules

  • Create videos to demonstrate interactions with various populations within the community

  • Integrate new content into an online format using Moodle, the university’s LMS

The online pre-SL modules served the main academic course content for the Spring 2019 semester.  The redesign project allowed for students to not only understand the applied part of nutrition education, but also about diverse populations with whom they may work in the community.  The service-learning component of the course requires students to apply their relevant service using their academic content. Students who took a previous course (not a prerequisite) can also apply the knowledge obtained from the previous course.

The main outcome of the project was to create the seven online pre-SL modules within a sustainable course that could be used for several years to come.  The course modules and activities should provide students the ability to build their knowledge and self-efficacy in working with diverse populations when providing nutrition education.

Presentation Learning Outcomes

At the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  • Define service-learning

  • Recognize a flipped course project

  • Learn positives and negatives of completing a flipped course project

  • Apply curriculum development and instructional design strategies to ensure program objectives are met

Audience Engagement

The beginning of the presentation will identify a situational context in which flipping a classroom is necessary and warranted.  Group discussions, online polling, and other audience engagement strategies will be utilized to obtain audience feedback and share knowledge.