Using a sensory learning framework to design effective curricula: Evidence from indigenous nutrition education programs

Kelly Green, Lauren Chenarides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As health disparities among Native Americans persist, promoting better health outcomes is of paramount concern among Indigenous populations. A variety of programs exist that try to alleviate problems resulting in higher rates of diet-related chronic diseases and premature death. For this study, we collaborated with an Indigenous-led nonprofit that implemented a series of nutrition education courses designed to empower community members to make healthier food choices. The theoretically based curriculum, which provided learners with information in the form of sensory-based modules, e.g., food preparation, food handling, cultural awareness, and practical cooking skills, was introduced in various communities in the Great Plains and Southwest. The nutrition education programs were modeled after a canonical educational learning model, Bloom's Taxonomy, designed to provide participants with information and resources necessary to make healthier food choices across three cognitive domains (i.e., tiers). We used a mixed-methods approach, coupling Principal Components Analysis with a qualitative SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, to assess each program's capacity to enhance learning retention, i.e., to assess the salience of information provided and the extent to which each program was more or less successful in participants' learning. We found that course content and instruction are strongly correlated with program satisfaction. In addition, from the qualitative analysis, we found that as each successive module of the program challenged higher cognitive domains, participants were more likely to indicate satisfaction in the course material as well as state a desired change in their behavior, which we attribute to participants' ability to synthesize and evaluate information. Aspects of this programming framework have the potential to be adapted to and integrated into other Native communities striving for the successful adoption of healthier diets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7077
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Bloom's taxonomy
  • Food sovereignty
  • Mixed-methods
  • Native American
  • Nutrition education
  • Principal component analysis
  • SWOT
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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