Public health teaching in practice, peer learning and partnership working: the Cook School project

Amani Al-Saedi, Jake Bell, Alex Boorman, Ellie Cameron, Zoe Castleman, Chamos Flanagan, Cristine Fraser, Jessica Pearson, Alison Philp, Kirsty Robinson, Flavio Silva, Amina Taki, Dareen Tubeileh, Robyn Vosters, Hilda Mary Mulrooney


Authentic learning opportunities replicating working environments will enhance learners’ employability and intrinsic motivation. Within most undergraduate curricula, opportunities for students to experience hands-on learning opportunities which mimic public health practice are limited. A pilot university cook and eat programme (the Cook School) was developed based upon community cook and eat programmes. The aim was to enable trained undergraduate Nutrition students to facilitate healthy eating activities to their peers, as a voluntary co-curricular activity. 

Two cook and eat programmes, each of five weeks duration, were offered to undergraduate students (12 participants per programme). Cooking was delivered by trained chefs and the healthy eating components were facilitated by trained undergraduate Nutrition students. Participants did not know beforehand that sessions would include nutrition information & activities in addition to cooking. Facilitators identified ‘employability’ as a key driver for their participation in this project. Their post-course evaluations suggested that key employability skills like team work, time management, communication and organisation were enhanced by involvement in the Cook School.  Participants suggested that attending Cook School improved their knowledge of healthy eating. Whether this translates into improved diets long term is currently unknown. 

This pilot project offered undergraduate Nutrition students a unique opportunity to gain key employability skills within an authentic learning environment, working in partnership with their peers. 

Keywords: Authentic learning, Peer learning, Motivation, Partnership, Employability


Authentic learning; Peer learning; Motivation; Partnership; Employability

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