Pioneering Online Learning for Obesity and Weight Management

Concurrent Session 9
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Students' satisfaction with integrating various online learning technologies for comprehension of multifactorial obesity complexities


Laura is a visiting instructor in the Exercise Science department at The University of Akron. Her research interests are obesity stigmatization and fat bias, emphasis on students' perceptions of weightism. In addition to academia, she is also a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist in the healthcare setting with expertise with metabolic and bariatric patients.
I am currently an Associate Professor at The University of Akron in the School of Sport Science and Wellness Education. Currently, my research efforts are focused on behavior modification and how to empower individuals to take control of their personal health and wellness. Additionally, as an educator I am interested in finding ways to reach students in all modes of course delivery and all styles of learning.

Extended Abstract

Learning objectives: Upon completion of this session, participants will appreciate how an innovative online curriculum addresses the multifactorial approaches of obesity care as viewed by undergraduate students. Participants will be able identify factors that influence student perspectives of online learning environments.

Purpose: It is important that exercise science curriculum engages student learning to address the multifaceted complexities of obesity and weight management. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of an online mode of delivery focusing on such curriculum.

Methods: At the conclusion of three consecutive semesters, a convenience sample of n= 131 Exercise Science students completed an online course evaluation survey for the Exercise & Weight Control course. The survey consisted of 13 Likert-scale and two open-ended discussion questions. Responses to the Likert-scale questions were categorized as either "agree" or "disagree" by combining the amount of students who "regularly" or "always", and those who "never" or "rarely" agree with the corresponding statements.

Evidence base: Research asserts that online learning is critical for teaching using multiple modes of delivery, appealing to varying learning styles, and effective for mastery of complex curricula. Curriculum addressing the multifactorial approaches of obesity treatment has been recognized as an important component in university Exercise Science programs. The prevalence of obesity among the American population has steadily increased over the past several decades. Exercise science students often become professionals working with obese individuals. Pre-professional exercise science students require training on how to effectively assist clients/patients with weight management. An innovative online current research based curriculum was established at large mid-western university to address the use of exercise as a therapeutic tool in the scope of weight management, weight loss, and bariatric care.

Results: Analysis of the Likert-type statements and qualitative feedback resulted in robust student feedback. Survey questions and answers were divided into six domains: class material and instructor implementation, effectiveness of technology, extent of interpersonal communication, importance of interpersonal relationships, learner preferences, and overall satisfaction. Results revealed favorable student experiences with 87% reporting agreement with organization and facilitation of course material, 69% viewed interpersonal communication as fulfilling their need for student and faculty collaboration and only 18% were dissatisfied with the integration of technology in the course.

Conclusion: Assessment identified minor resistance to online learning however, overwhelmingly favorable responses identified that online classrooms helped to build independence and confidence in students' educational experience. Online learning provided a means for students to autonomously progress at their own pace.

Presentation format: Oral discussion using powerpoint/prezi detailing the evolution of course mode of delivery from traditional face-2-face to online format, with interactive display of learning technologies embedded in the course. Presentation panel will consist of both faculty and former student dialogue regarding effectiveness of course integration, implementation and facilitation.