The purpose of my research program is to make visible the
human dimension
of dietetics education and practice through critical feminist narrative, arts-informed, and phenomenological methods.

Current Research Projects

Critical Theoretical Approaches in Nutrition Communication
While health communication is a relatively well-established field of scholarly practice, nutrition communication is less visible as a discipline. Theoretical frames give dimension to a field and while many theories exist related to the promotion of nutrition behaviour change, fewer critical, interpretive, and cultural theories exist that speak directly to nutrition communication. This project will entail a systematic review of existing critical health communication theories and the translation of these theories to the field of nutrition communication.

"High-Stakes Learning": Improving Educational Quality Through Learning Groups for At-Risk Students
This project will assess the educational quality of Learning Groups for students who are "at-risk" for leaving the university prematurely. Student retention is an important outcome of any Student Service initiative since there are human and economic capital implications for students' completing their degree in a timely manner. Three cycles of Learning Groups will be offered over the course of 18 months with a potential sample of 270 in total. Students participating in the Learning Groups will complete a pre-, post-, 6-month, and one-year Learning and Study Strategies inventory as well as engage in interviews with a Research Assistant at the completion of the Learning Group and at 6-months follow-up. Findings have the potential to influence policy and offer "high-stakes learning" for students, administrators, student services, faculty, and the institution as a whole.

Picturing Resiliency: Using a Photovoice Method to Explore Critical Nutrition Communication Praxis
Building on the "career resiliency" scholarship in nursing and medicine, this research employs an arts-informed participatory action research method called photovoice to explore resiliency (relational capacity) among nutrition and food professionals. Photovoice engages nutrition and food professionals to elaborate on the complexity of their practice through a powerful means: the visual image. The research strategy places cameras in the hands of participants enabling them to document and represent nutrition communication praxis from their own perspective though a critical, interpretive, and cultural "lens."

Prevalence and Phenomenology of Burnout Among Nutrition and Food Professionals
This research aims to assess the prevalence of burnout among nutrition and food professionals and determine what might be unique to this group's experience of burnout in the particular context of their nutrition and food work. Since nutrition practice brings together a complex blend of issues, but is also affected by the practitioners themselves, the proposed research will adopt a phenomenological approach, which will allow connections to be made between experiences of burnout, resilience against burnout, and professional identity, all of which have implications for nutrition communication practice.

Relational/Cultural Approaches to Nutrition Counselling
A student with an interest in assessing and enhancing her approach to individual nutrition counselling will engage in supervised nutrition counselling practice, inquiry into the transferability of this approach to other nutrition counselling contexts, and identification of outcomes among university students. This Major Research paper topic will engage mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) to critically explore the practice of relational-cultural nutrition counselling.

Understanding Students' Experiences of Being Weighed and Measured: Implications for Future Nutrition Communication Initiatives
The Health Assessment of School Aged Children Project (HASAC) is a surveillance initiative to establish a baseline measure of height, weight, and general health among grade six students. A graduate student is required to facilitate the qualitative aspect of the HASAC project. To date, there have been very few published data on children's experiences participating in health surveillance projects. Assessing students' experiences of participating in HASAC is a means to address voiced concerns about the effect of health surveillance on children's self-esteem, body acceptance, and health-seeking behaviours; concerns that are valid, but unverified in the literature.


If you are interested in assisting with Jacqui's research program, email her a current resume with an indication of which project interests you and a description of how your previous education and/or experiences would make a positive contribution to that project.

Recently Completed Research Projects

Storytelling Social Change: Writing Lives as a Means for Enhancing Dietetic Practice
Nutrition and food practice is based on a traditional approach to understanding Others' nutritional health and behaviour. It has been noted in other health professions that practice is enhanced when students are connected to culture and knowledge from outside their home discipline. Storytelling is one such way to connect with and to deepen knowledge of self and Others in a cultural context. This course used as its main text a story written about dietetics students, education, and practice called, "Longing for Recognition" to encourage critical thinking about nutrition and food education and practice and to acknowledge storytelling as a powerful medium to understand Others. Nutrition and food students will engage in their own storytelling to establish an "oral tradition" that will be maintained and grown for future years. This course also incorporated a research component which existed in parallel to the curriculum. The research was arts-based (relied on story-telling as method) and explored questions related to professional socialization, understanding of practice, reflexivity, and the relationship between social theory and dietetic theory.

Coming and Going: First- and Fourth-Year Food and Nutrition Students' Experience of Their Education
Using a brief survey and in-depth individual interviews, this research contributed to our understanding of the experiences of students new to the Nutrition program and those who are in the process of finishing their Nutrition degree. The results of this research will begin to identify what expectations students bring to their undergraduate program, the process of professionalization that occurs during their education, and expectations graduating students hold of practice. These understandings can help inform recruitment practices in Nutrition Schools, professional practice curricula, and the types of support that graduating students might require as they move into practice settings or ongoing training opportunities, i.e. internships or graduate school. Manuscript accepted for publication in Fall 2009 in Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research.

Mapping Resiliency: An Arts-Based, Experiential Exploration of Resiliency Among Food and Nutrition Professionals
Based on the findings of recent doctoral research, nutrition professionals (dietitians) experience adaptive melancholy related to irreconcilable aspects of self, education, culture, professionalization, and practice (Gingras, 2006). The majority of research participants spoke of their desire to leave the profession as one response to their melancholy. For instance, one participant stated, "it was really painful when I left [ICU], but I really felt that I was being drained, my well was so dry, it was just cracking and for my own survival, I had to leave." While many participants spoke of their desire to leave, many did not actually leave the profession. Given their desire to leave, but the infrequency with which participants acted on this desire, these dietitians inevitably revealed their agency in choosing to stay. This current research will help to further understand the experience of wanting to leave the profession, what precipitates a desire to leave, and what might be involved in choosing to stay. The conceptual framework will be community-oriented such that the findings of the study might be mobilized into action through self-initiated policy and future research proposal development.

"To Please and To Educate": Scholarly Salons As A Site For Enhanced Food and Nutrition Student Engagement and Communities Of Teaching and Learning
The salon is a gathering place for the exchange of ideas. The tradition began in France and
Italy, where intellectuals came together for lively conversation in the fields of arts and letters
(Imhof, 2002). Historically, "stimulating people of quality" came together to "refine their taste and increase their knowledge through conversation and readings" (Anon, 2006). Salons are thought to follow "Horace's definition of the aims of poetry, "to please and educate," an experience of artfulness and intellect that is at the same time embodied and scholarly (Anon, 2006). The impetus for this project arose from a student's request at a recent School Council meeting for increased opportunities to provide "qualitative feedback" regarding experiences in Nutrition. The aim of this project was to offer three scholarly salons as a site for feminist participatory action research (FPAR) where second- and third-year Nutrition students could satisfy their desire to share (and increase) their knowledge towards and experience of (1) improved engagement with the Nutrition program and (2) strengthened scholarly communities for learning and teaching - in the tradition of scholarly salons, to please and to educate for both Nutrition students and faculty.

Loving Yourself Girls Project Evaluation: Promoting Healthy Relationships with Food and Eating in BC Communities
There has never been a comprehensive, integrated effort to prevent eating and weight disturbances in the province of British Columbia (BC). Recently, a pilot program called the Loving Yourself Girls Project (LYGP) was undertaken by Jessie's Hope Society, a BC non-profit organization whose vision is for all British Columbian's to live in a society where we celebrate the inner strength and beauty of everyBody (www.jessieshope.org). The goal of the LYGP was to engage high school peer counsellors, community members, public health professionals, and mental health professionals living in nine BC communities in the promotion of positive body image by fostering resiliency in children and youth. This research enabled an evaluation of the LYGP with the resultant data being used for three purposes: 1) to provide Jessie's Hope Society with important evidence to improve future community-based prevention initiatives, 2) to enhance the researchers' understanding of what constitutes evidence-based practice among dietitians and allied health professionals in the prevention of eating and weight disturbances, and 3) to integrate these data into dietetic undergraduate curriculum which will then be tested as part of a larger, SSHRC-funded intervention project.


 
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