Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Melinda J. Ickes


College students, on average, do not consume enough fruits and vegetables. Contributing to poor eating habits is an overall decline in young adults’ cooking skills as compared to previous decades, with today’s college students often relying on ubiquitous convenience food options. The detriments associated with these food choices are linked to a number of chronic diseases, including obesity. Though programming for college students which incorporates both nutrition education and hands-on cooking opportunities is rare, programs which have been implemented have had positive outcomes associated with increased self-efficacy with cooking and eating healthfully, and improved eating behaviors.

This research utilized a mixed methods approach driven by the social cognitive theory to develop, implement, and assess the impact of a culinary nutrition education program, The College CHEF. The first phase of the research included conducting a PRECEDE-PROCEED model-driven primary and secondary needs assessment to develop programming. The second phase consisted of program implementation and evaluation. The program was evaluated through a Qualtrics survey to determine participants’ changes pre- to –post- with cooking and eating attitudes, behaviors, self-efficacy and knowledge. Pre- and –post- measures consisted primarily of Likert-type scales, in addition to demographic questions. Research participants were students living on University of Kentucky’s campus who were part of particular Living Learning Programs (LLPs), through which they lived, socialized, and often took classes together. Participants from two intervention groups (N = 15) attended four weekly 2-hour sessions, completing the measures online before and after the program. An inclusion criteria to be included in the study was that participants must have attended at least three of the four sessions. Control group participants (N = 17) did not partake in programming, but completed both pre- and -post- surveys at the same time as the intervention groups. The study's results indicated that campus-based, hands-on culinary nutrition education programming was impactful in improving college students': 1) self-efficacy for using fruits, vegetables, and seasonings (p = .015); 2) fruit and vegetable consumption (p = 0.03); and 3) knowledge of cooking terms and techniques (p = .000).

Given the limited research studying the impact of culinary nutrition education programming on college students, especially as it applies to those living in the same environment and reciprocally influencing one another, this study provides a unique perspective to the field of health promotion. Its findings can support campus-based, culinary nutrition programming for the college population in an effort to improve eating and cooking attitudes, behaviors, self-efficacy, and knowledge, and subsequently, overall health.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)