Development and validation of a social cognitive theory-based survey for elementary nutrition education program

Elisha Hall, Weiwen Chai, Wanda Koszewski, Julie Albrecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: The Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) is a widely used model for developing elementary nutrition education programs; however, few instruments are available to assess the impact of such programs on the main constructs of the SCT. The purposes of this study were: 1) to develop and validate a SCT-based survey instrument that focuses on knowledge, behavior, and self-efficacy for fifth grade students; 2) to assess the relationships between knowledge, behavior, and self-efficacy; and 3) to assess knowledge, behavior, and self-efficacy for healthy eating among the fifth grade students. Methods: A 40-item instrument was developed and validated using content validity and tested among 98 fifth grade students for internal consistency reliability. Relationships between knowledge, behavior, and self-efficacy were assessed using Pearson Correlation Coefficients. Differences in behavior and knowledge scores between children with high and low self-efficacy were examined using t-test. Results: Cronbach's alphas for self-efficacy (0.70) and behavior (0.71) subscales of the survey were acceptable, although lower for knowledge (0.56). Summary scores for self-efficacy and behaviors were positively correlated (r = 0.40, P = 0.0001); however, summary knowledge scores were not associated with self-efficacy (r = 0.02, P = 0.88) or behavior scores (r = 0.14, P = 0.23). Participants with high self-efficacy also had significantly higher scores on consuming fruits (P = 0.0009) and dairy products (P = 0.009), eating breakfast (P = 0.008), helping plan family meals (P = 0.0006) and total behaviors for healthy-eating (P = 0.001) compared to those with low self-efficacy. In addition, approximately two thirds of the fifth grade students reported that they did not eat any fruits or vegetables or ate them only once on a typical day. Conclusions: The developed instrument is a reliable and useful tool to assess SCT-based elementary nutrition education programs, particularly for self-efficacy and behavior. Our results also indicated that strategic interventions are necessary to improve dietary behaviors regarding fruit and vegetable consumptions among elementary school students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number47
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 9 2015


  • Behavior
  • Elementary nutrition education
  • Healthy eating
  • Knowledge
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social cognitive theory
  • Validation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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