Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Duffrin, Melani

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

School of Health Studies


High school health science teacher professional development (TPD) is one learning environment where emphasis on numeracy and nutritional health literacy can make lifelong positive impacts on the health and wellbeing of youth. It has been estimated that only 33% of United States adults have limited numeracy skills and that only 12% are health literate. The purpose of this study was to begin the development of a high school health science TPD focused on numeracy and nutritional health literacy and to assist the teacher in delivering subject matter using brain-based learning principles. An exploratory case study design was selected as the research method for this study to inform future experimental design. A high school student curriculum, FoodMASTER Food and You! Numeracy Matters, was selected to guide the TPD. This curriculum was selected for the TPD because it focuses on numeracy concepts specific to nutritional health and was specifically designed for high school age students using brain-based learning principals. The case study design implemented a TPD with a teacher (N=1), a classroom activity observation (N=1), and student feedback (N=20). The teacher TPD was informed by interviewing, classroom implementation of an activity was informed by observation, and student feedback was collected using a researcher developed survey. The survey for students included demographic information, seventeen Likert survey items (7-point scale: 1=Strongly Disagree, 7=Strongly Agree) including sense of belonging (5 items), reaction (5 items), confidence(3 items), beliefs of referent others (4 items), and open-end questions (3 items). Given the small sample size of the population utilized for this case study, all data was presented in descriptive form only. Study survey results were analyzed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) 27.0. The study was approved by Northern Illinois University Institutional Review Board. The teacher indicated that the TPD experience should be modified to provide teachers with more support in dealing with sensitive issues around the delivery of nutritional health science subject matter, practice models for brain-based learning, and ideas for extending lessons. The experience was delivered in a traditional format indicating that the teacher did need some more practice with implementing the suggested brain-based learning techniques from the TPD. However, the teacher was able to successfully implement one activity in the classroom with positive student feedback. Most of the students indicated somewhat agree = 5 to strongly agree = 7 on Likert scales responses for sense of belonging, reaction, confidence, and beliefs of reference others and the open-ended question responses indicated students understood how numbers can be utilized to inform health. Information derived from this study will be utilized to implement a better informed TPD experiences for larger numbers of teachers. Numeracy, nutritional health literacy, and utilizing brain-based learning techniques in the classroom remain and import area of study for the health science teaching profession and warrant continued research efforts.


88 pages




Northern Illinois University

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