The Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Research Sciences (TOPRS) curriculum, a problem-based transdisciplinary curriculum on childhood obesity, features nationally recognized experts in human genetics, nutrition, child development, family science, early care and education, community health, and public health. The curriculum is organized around solving the problem of unhealthy weight gain in childhood which requires an understanding of individual biology, changes in nutritional needs across different developmental periods, self-regulation, family meals, child care practices, effects of the media, access to healthy foods and places to play, federal policies, and cultural traditions. Curriculum modules feature micro-lectures, learning objectives, key concepts, learning activities, optional readings, and quiz questions.
The TOPRS curriculum is grounded in developmental socio-ecological models proposing that childhood obesity is the result of multiple factors embedded in different ecologies. The 6-C’s model proposed by Harrison et al., (2011) outlines six spheres of influence on childhood obesity and overweight. The cellular level represents genetic contributions and biological influences on child weight and propensity to gain weight over time. The child level represents personality characteristics such as temperament and behavioral characteristics that influence food preferences, activity levels, and how the child interacts with the social environment. The clan level represents the family environment and includes beliefs and practices associated with eating and physical activity. The community sphere includes influences outside the home including child care, schools, and community factors such as access to food. The country sphere includes national institutions and policies that regulate food and physical activity such as policies for food support and wellness policies in schools. The culture sphere includes traditions and culture-specific expectations about food practices, health beliefs, and physical activity.
The TOPRS Steering Committee developed the list of curriculum modules, scientific content and accompanying learning objectives. Micro-lectures were developed by scientific content experts and filmed with the assistance of the Discovery Learning Research Center at Purdue University and Technology Services at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Learning activities, optional readings, and quiz questions were developed in consultation with content experts. Technology Services at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign also provided consultation in applying pedagogically sound principles of instruction and best practices to the design and creation of the TOPRS curriculum, graphic design and editing support, and assistance in securing intellectual property and accessibility standards. Curriculum evaluation was conducted by the ISTEM at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a unit within the Office of the Chancellor that evaluates and monitors the effectiveness of STEM programming at, undergraduate and graduate levels with attention to scientific accuracy, pedagogical effectiveness, and diversity.
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