Teaching the mediterranean diet in Italy

Noreen D. Willows, Cynthia Strawson-Fawcett, Shauna M. Downs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Problem-based learning (PBL) can provide an enhanced appreciation of the relationship between culture and food for students who aspire to become dietitians or nutrition educators; however, large university classes often inhibit the use of PBL. A professor who specializes in research documenting the relationships among food and culture took 17 Canadian university students, many of whom were studying nutrition and food science, to southern Italy where they learned about Mediterranean diets and Italian food culture. PBL was implemented by encouraging students to work together to solve problems, and by the completion of assignments that promoted observation of and interaction with the local culture. Students evaluated the experience positively with majority agreement that the quality of course content was excellent, that knowledge of the subject areas increased, and that the courses challenged students to critically think about issues. Despite a focused effort on PBL in the courses, not all students agreed that the courses helped them to develop the ability to solve real problems in this field. This may have been due to unawareness of dietetic competencies by some students. Many of the assignments used in Italy could be adopted for use in food culture classes in North America, or by postsecondary instructors planning travel study programs in Italy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-34
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Food Science Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Education


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