Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Nancy Walters


Changing demographics in the United States to a minority-majority culture require health care professionals who are culturally competent to provide appropriate care to patients. In a university in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, a gap existed between student education and the culturally competent professional practice of entry-level registered dietitians. Using Freire's notion of social justice and Vygotsky's constructivist theory as the conceptual frameworks, the purpose of this study was to explore educators' instructional strategies that promoted cultural competence in nutrition and dietetics education. The research questions examined how educators described the instructional practices they employed to promote cultural competence in nutrition and dietetics education. Using a qualitative instrumental case study design, 9 educators responded to an open-ended questionnaire, as well as provided documents for analysis in the form of assignments. First-cycle data analysis was conducted using an initial coding protocol followed with a second-cycle phase using axial coding. The key themes for educators included the necessity of cultural competence in nutrition and dietetics instruction, and classroom and experiential learning activities engagement. The key conclusion was cultural competence is necessary to bridge the gap between student education and professional practice. The project study resulted in a position paper that recommended revising the local study site's curriculum to be based in cultural competence instruction through multiple modalities of collaborative and experiential learning activities. Positive social change will be present through enhancing nutrition and dietetics education to better better prepare students to be culturally competent professionals who provide improved health care to their patients.