The purpose of this paper is to test an hypothesis that teachers’ personal orientations toward food preparation, nutrition and environmental issues would be related to their perceived importance of food skills.
Little research has been conducted on home economics teachers’ views on the importance of the food skills they teach in secondary schools in Australia. Therefore, an online survey was conducted among 261 home economics teachers in Australian secondary schools. The research measured respondents’ ratings of the importance of 70 food skills as well as their teaching preferences and use of resources.
Respondents rated the procedural “hands-on” skills required to prepare a healthy meal as most important. Exploratory factor analysis derived five components (procedures for domestic settings, procedures for vocational settings, cookery methods, food economy, using microwave oven appliances) relating to teachers’ perceived importance of food skills. Teachers’ personal orientations were described as food aesthete, consumer-environmentalist and nutritionist. The findings showed that these were better predictors of the perceived importance of food skills than demographic characteristics. The most important perceived skills related to the basic procedures required by young people to be able to prepare meals for themselves when living independently. Teachers’ personal “orientations” were significantly related to the perceived importance of food skills. Demographic and professional characteristics were poor predictors of these perceptions.
The findings provide home economics teachers with an understanding of their selection of particular food skills to teach their students in skill-based healthy eating programmes.
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