Educational Process

This educational process was developed by Dr. Debra Palmer Keenan for targeting nutrition education to limited resource adults who meet in small groups. It was developed as a result of seven years of research with SNAP-Ed and EFNEP paraprofessional staff and has undergone extensive testing and use. The process utilizes the principles of adult learning theory, and is designed such that each step assists class participants in improving their food security status by sharing ways to improve their diet-related behaviors.

Step 1

Before the First Class

Paraprofessional or professional staff prepare to teach the first class once you know where and when they will hold classes.  This preparation will include collecting the different forms that will need to be completed during the first class.  Some forms are given to participants to complete, while others are for the educator's use only.

Before the first class, parafprofessional or professional staff  make sure that you have the right amount of copies of all forms that theywill need for their participants and for themselves.  All of the forms that you will need at the first class are  found below.


Step 2

The First Class

Paraprofessional or professional staff gather data to determine program participants' wants and needs. To do so they:

  • Ask participants about the types of classes they would enjoy attending.
  • Have participants vote on the topics areas in which they are most interested.  This is done based on a topic area list established through research on participant nutrition education desires.
  • Guide participants in completing their surveys (or dietary recalls and behavioral checklists), which will later be examined to assess the participants’ “needs.”


Step 3

After the First Class

Paraprofessional or professional staff initiate the development of a lesson plan and prepare for the second class. To do so they:

  • Review their notes about the types of classes their participants indicated they would enjoy.
    • Review participants’ surveys (or diet recalls and behavior checklists) to acquire insights about participants' current eating behaviors.
  • Determine which topic areas will be taught based on participants': 1) topic area votes 2) their potential issues identified as a result of reviewing their dietary intake and physical activity data, and 3) the number of classes to be held. Usually, only 2-3 topic areas are selected, as a minimum of 2 lessons are done for each topic area to better promote behavioral change(s).  The topic areas are noted and saved for the further development of a lesson plan after the next class.
  • Adult Lesson Plan
  • Shopping List Approval Form


Step 4

The Second Class

Paraprofessional or professional staff introduce participants to MyPlate; review analyses of the single day "snap-shots" of their diets if diet recalls were done; and encourage each to share some of their dietary problems and solutions with others in the class. This is done by:

  • Showing a poster of MyPlate and teaching participants that each meal they should fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables, and if they can’t eat them during the meal to eat them as between meal snacks.  Explaining that other foods should be eaten in proportions similar to what is shown in the graphic.
  • If diet recalls were done, returning participants' diet recall analyses and helping them compare their analyses to the MyPlate recommendations.
  • Asking participants to each share a concern they have about their or their children’s diets in relationship to what they have learned, and facilitating a group discussion on suggestions to help resolve each individual's problems.


Step 5

After the Second Class

Paraprofessional or professional staff create a lesson plan and prepare for the remaining lessons.  They do so by:

  • Examining the notes from after their first class and changing topic areas if necessary, based on the group discussion that took place during the second class.
  • Choosing lessons from the Educational Resources, Small Group Adult Nutrition Education Lessons section of the NJ SNAP-Ed website, based on the topic area selected.  Segments from the Walk Indoors! DVD are selected to go along with most, if not all, classes DVD. The activity selected for the last class is either a brief lesson, a segment from the Walk Indoors! DVD, a nutrition demonstration, or a single activity from a longer lesson to allow time for data collection and participant recognition.


Step 6

The Remaining Classes

Paraprofessional or professional staff teach the lessons, and walk along with the class during the DVD segments they have identified in their lesson plan.  All lessons are state approved, and are taught exactly as written. Lessons are:

  • Research, evidence, and/or practice based.
  • Behaviorally-focused.
  • Based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (
  • Learner-driven and created in alignment with Adult Learning Theory and Empowerment Models.
  • Characterized by activities that keep participants actively engaged and finding solutions that fit their own unique needs.
  • Inclusive of no more than 10 consecutive minutes of lecture, and often require facilitation.
  • Created such that they bring attention to any concerns or needed modifications that should be considered when working with particular audiences.


Step 7

The Last Class

In addition to the planned activity, paraprofessional or professional staff collect outcome data and recognize participants who have attended the minimum number of classes expected for “graduation.” This is accomplished by:

  • Teaching either a brief lesson, a segment from the Walk Indoors! DVD, a nutrition demonstration, or a single activity from a longer lesson to allow time for data collection and participant recognition.
  • Collecting post-class survey data.
  • Giving a certificate and/or award to each participant who attended at least six classes