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Objective: To understand how the addition of an evidence-based framework to an online nutrition module influences college students’ critical thinking decision making (CT-DM).

Design: Students were individually randomized into an intervention group or a control group. The nutrition modules focused on 2 topics related to different types of eating behavior. Students completed a CT-DM activity to generate a score.

Participants: College students, between 18 and 24 years old, recruited from introductory nutrition and agriculture science courses at 2 universities.

Intervention: Intervention and control received 2 nutrition modules. The intervention added a CT-DM framework that framed the topic as a problem, incorporated activities, and provided scaffolding.

Main Outcome Measures: CT-DM was scored using a validated rubric to assess the use of critical thinking skills when making a food-related decision. Green eating and critical thinking disposition were measured.

Analysis: Hierarchical linear regression and t tests were used to assess outcomes.

Results: A total of 431 students participated (intervention = 203; control = 228). After controlling for university, the intervention group scored significantly higher on CT-DM (18.1 ± 7.6) compared with the control (15.4 ± 8.4); F (3,428) = 14.58, P < .001.

Conclusions and Implications: The results show that an evidence-based framework using nutrition topics encourages CT-DM skills. Future higher-education nutrition interventions should use frameworks to enhance student learning.


Ingrid Lofgren and Sara Sweetman are from the School of Education.

Geoffrey Greene is from the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences.