NATIONAL NUTRITION CERTIFICATION PROGRAM (NNCP)
Design and develop a national certification program to ensure volunteers have a basic understanding of correct nutrition principles. I was asked to use my neutron degree knowledge and personal training experience to develop this curricula.
National Nutrition Certification Program (NNCP)—An online nationally recognized certification system that meets FDA standards and teaches an average of 1,000 participants per year.
Team: Josh LeFevre and Heidi LeBlanc
Project: 2014, Curriculum development
Duration: 8 weeks
Tools: Canvas, HTML
My role: Information architect, prototyper, co-author, usability tester, Nutrition Researcher
Client: Utah State University's Utah SNAP ED program (Food$ense)
The Design Brief
Food$ense is a nutrition program sponsored by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) in partnership with Utah State University’s Extension Program. Under the auspices of Food$ense, I was tasked to lead a team of two to design and develop a standardized and sustainable certification program for current and future instructors of Food$ense nutrition curriculum. This program was to replace an antiquated and high-maintenance education module that no longer met the needs of educators or the FDA; it relied primarily on one-to-one mentoring, and had no ability to track user participation, and thus could not ensure or certify that instructors were qualified to teach. This certification was important because many of the teachers had never taken nutrition or, if they had, did not know the standards required by the Food Stamps program.
Process and Methodology
Phase 0: Background
In addition to creating a standardized, high-quality curriculum and creating a means to credibly certify instructors, our program needed to be user friendly and automated, requiring little if any maintenance or support resources.
This project had nationwide implications since Food$ense curriculum is taught in Utah and the majority of the United States. In 2015, just one year after we finished our project, there were over 1,000 certified participants in over 40 states (USU Extension—Food$ense). In Utah, this curriculum is used by certified teachers in the community who teach nutrition classes to food stamp recipients, who often lack basic nutrition education and cooking skills. (Note: The program title Food$ense is used for Utah curriculum; other states often select their own titles even though the curriculum is nearly identical.)
Phase 1: Research
The first step was to develop and design an intensive nutrition curriculum that included topics ranging from biochemistry, nutrition, and biology to cooking techniques and principles that showed instructors how to teach. This step took a lot of critical thinking and an ability to strip down the huge topic of nutrition into its simple and essential components. Much of the curriculum was remodeled, expanded, and updated from the prior curriculum, taking into account current nutrition research. The final product significantly increased the depth and breadth of knowledge available to instructors seeking certification.
My goal was to focus on the essential knowledge that volunteer teachers would need to know when instructing others.
While developing the curriculum, I researched learning management systems (LMS), and selected Canvas as our LMS because it could be automated, was interactive, and was easy to use. I liked this platform because the courses could be laid out in a progression and be self-sustainable, with certificates of completion and graduation automatically generated and awarded when participants completed the curriculum and passed the examinations.
As of June 2016, there were nearly 1,600 NNCP graduates. Other states and organizations use this curriculum for their own certifications because they like the quality and completeness of the training. Participants and education directors are pleased with the program, which takes approximately 40 hours to complete.
I enjoyed this project because I had the freedom to design the curriculum, experience the iterative process, and create something that could make an positive impact on nutrition educators and, through them, food stamp recipients.
**Thumbnail curtesy of Flicker, Creative Commons