Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Heidi Wengreen


Heidi Wengreen


Marlene Israelsen Graf


Kerry A. Rood


Blended-design courses integrate both face-to-face and online learning. This thesis discusses the use of three teaching innovations and their effect on student engagement and course satisfaction in a blended-design nutrition course. The three teaching innovations include 1) a web-based learning platform, called Connect (published by McGraw-Hill Education) 2) other easily accessible technological tools (such as Google+), and 3) higher-level use of a graduate-level teaching assistant.

Another form of web-based learning platform, Mastering, published by Pearson Education, was use previously in the course. However, students, especially those earning the highest grades in the course, did not see value in completing these assignments as a way to help them to learn the material. The experience of students using Mastering was compared to the experience of students using Connect. When student's retention of information taught in the course was assessed four months after the courses ended. Students who had used the Connect platform performed similarly to students who had used the Mastering platform. In addition, like Mastering, retention of the information was best among the students who had low levels of nutrition knowledge at the beginning of the semester. Other tools such as Google+ and a teaching assistant were used in a second study to increase the feeling of engagement in the blended learning class. Compared to the class without the extra tools, final grade, course satisfaction level and student attendance rate improved. Interestingly, with the extra tools, freshman students earned the highest final grade than a sophomore, junior and senior student group. A student engagement survey was given in the beginning of the semester and at the end of the semester. It was surprising that student engagement decreased across the semester. Both studies created desirable effect such as greater student course satisfaction level and the improved academic performance. Also, it appears that the tools implemented in both studies helped at risk students more than students who came to the class with a higher the most, such as freshman students and/or the students who have lack of fundamental knowledge when entering the course.