What and how much an individual eats largely defines his/her health. The most used dietary intervention models target individuals' concern for personal health, thereby undermining the interdisciplinary trajectory of the nutrition field. The purpose of this study was to compare the food choice motives of students enrolled in an interdisciplinary learning community (LCOM) to students enrolled in a non-integrated nutrition course and gain insight into student experiences with interdisciplinary nutrition education. A two-phase sequential mixed methods design was used. The first phase compared the personal health and ethical concern motives of the LCOM (n = 13) and non-integrated students (n = 60). The secondary phase employed a web-based interview to explore the LCOM experiences. Both groups highly valued the ability of food to improve personal health. There was no statistically significant difference in the ethical concern motives between the two groups however, interview responses revealed that LCOM participants made dietary changes as a result of ethical concern. The study concluded that participants made dietary choices based on personal health, regardless of the type of nutrition education received, and the LCOM was effective in developing a greater value for ethical concern. The learning community framework could provide a rich education experience that helps students develop an improved sense of social responsibility and initiate behavior change. Recommendations included how health and nutrition departments could integrate related disciplines into nutrition curricula. Future research examining the longevity of motives is needed to explore the effectiveness of this educational framework in producing lasting behavior change.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Learning technologies; Nutrition -- Study and teaching; Health education; Food preferences

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Davis, Kay D.;