After the Bachelor of Nutrition and Health Carlijn Seggelen continued her education with the adjoining master Nutrition and Health, in which she did the specialisation Public Health & Epidemiology. A part of this master is the graduate thesis, where she will tell about below.
"At some point within the MSc Nutrition and Health you have to do your final project, also known as a master thesis. I did my thesis at the national station of support “Smaaklessen” (Taste Lessons) in Wageningen. At the time, I found this subject on a site for theses of the Department of Human Nutrition and I was hooked. 'Taste Lessons' is a Dutch education program for elementary school children with the aim of stimulating interest about food. Children learn what food is healthy, experience food with different senses and learn to cook. "
"My assignment was to evaluate the curriculum for group 5 and 6. With a fellow student, who evaluated group 7 and 8, I have developed questionnaires and distributed these to schools where Taste Lessons were already given and to schools were they were not yet. Hereafter, we analysed whether children who had had Smaaklessen tried to taste more unfamiliar products and if they have developed more knowledge and skills around food."
"In the beginning we were predominantly consulting with a variety of supervisors and teachers, since the impact assessment of the curriculum was new. Subsequently, we developed a questionnaire and took interviews at 12 primary schools . The recruitment of these schools was quite a job! The last few months have been devoted to data analysis and report writing. Regarding the results, we could demonstrate that the Smaaklessen had a positive influence on the children, but we couldn’t collect solid evidence. This is unfortunate, but at least we set a good fundament for further research. A subsidy for a follow-up research has been requested based on our results and has been obtained! Recently, more students started on this topic, making generous use of our work. Frankly, I am very proud that I was the first to be able to evaluate this curriculum. "
"Within the Master Nutrition and Health I follow the specialisation Public Health & Epidemiology. Within this specialisation, I followed several statistical courses, which made the data analysis of my graduation project easier. Also I could well use the acquired knowledge and skills of the communication courses I did for the development of the questionnaires. It was nice to translate scientific literature to simple questionnaires for children. All these years one has been reading the theory, for example that one can use a maximum of 3 answer categories for children, but only once one is in a classroom that information starts to come alive."
"When I attained my master's degree, I would like to establish a link between science and practice in the field of health. Not only about food, but also about other lifestyle factors. The Netherlands has many partnerships between universities and institutions. Lifestyle interventions and programs in practice must be well supported and developed, with among others scientific knowledge. But also evaluations must be carried out in the right way in order to determine whether the intervention has been successful. It is this I would like to focus on. "