Didactic program in dietetics (DPD) students’ experiences with pandemic learning and expectations for their future education: a descriptive study through a systems lens.

Publication date: Mar 06, 2024

The systems approach has been used to evaluate higher education and explores inputs, transformation process, and outputs of a system that is also influenced by environmental factors such as COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic shifted many college students to different learning modes, changing their university experience. This study evaluated dietetics students’ education experiences and characteristics in the latter period (spring 2022) of the COVID-19 pandemic using the systems approach. Researchers developed and distributed an electronic survey to all 215 US-based Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) directors during March to May 2022 to forward to their students. Researchers calculated descriptive statistics for variables related to inputs, transformation process, and outputs in the systems approach. Respondents (nā€‰=ā€‰341) represented 51 DPDs in 31 states in the United States. Overall, DPD students (88. 5%) were mostly or very satisfied with their choice of majoring in dietetics. Most (84. 0%) planned to earn the RDN credential. Nearly half (46. 9%) of DPD students were somewhat or extremely concerned about their readiness to continue their dietetics education path due to the pandemic-related learning conditions. Most students (43. 6%) reported dissatisfaction with asynchronous remote instruction in laboratory courses. DPD students’ GPAs remained consistent within the range of 3. 75-4. 0 from Fall 2019 (43. 2%) to Spring 2022 (44. 5%). The most important expectations of professors moving forward were to communicate effectively (97. 3%), employ cultural humility (93. 8%), eliminate discrimination in the classroom (93. 6%), provide lecture slides (89. 7%), and be flexible and accommodating (88. 7%). DPD students emerged from COVID-19 with new perspectives and expectations for their university learning experience. Future research should explore the perspectives of DI directors, preceptors, and employers of COVID-19 era DPD graduates.

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Concepts Keywords
Dietetics Asynchronous instruction
Environmental COVID-19 education
Pandemic Dietetics education
Professors Higher education
Hybrid instruction
Synchronous instruction
Systems approach


Type Source Name
disease IDO process
disease MESH COVID-19
pathway REACTOME Reproduction
disease VO USA
disease MESH housing insecurity
disease MESH loneliness
drug DRUGBANK Ilex paraguariensis leaf
drug DRUGBANK Spinosad
drug DRUGBANK Coenzyme M
drug DRUGBANK Dimercaprol
disease IDO production
disease MESH education level
disease VO population
disease VO biological sex
disease VO vaccination
disease VO vaccinated
disease VO vaccine
drug DRUGBANK Trihexyphenidyl
disease MESH emergency
drug DRUGBANK Trestolone
disease VO time
disease VO device

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