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Breakfast on academic performance

Author: Janet Peter
by Janet Peter
Posted: Feb 22, 2019
academic performance

Abstract

Background Breakfast is recognized as an important meal. However, adolescents and young adults tend to give it little regards. Researchers have associated regular breakfast intake with optimal health and wellness. Other students have also demonstrated a link between regular breakfast intake and academic performance. Aim: The study aims to determine the impact of breakfast on the academic performance and student behavior. Study design: the study will approach a quantitative approach that will involve the issuance of questionnaires and evaluation of the scores that the participants provide. Statistical data analysis of the results will be done to determine findings. The findings are expected to affirm that the regular intake of breakfast improves academic performance and student behavior.

Chapter Three: Methodology

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to determine the impact o breakfast on academic performance and student behavior. The focus of the study will be in adolescents and young adults from Saudi Arabia, Taku City. The study arises from the realization that adolescents and young adults have poor feeding habits including skipping breakfast yet it a critical meal of the day.

Researchers such as Rampersaud et al. (2005) have revealed that there is a strong connection between breakfast habits and the overall academic performance. Rampersaud (2005) indicates that the habits of skipping breakfast are prevalent in the United States and Europe. In his study, he found that breakfast eaters have significantly high cognitive improvements that are evident in their memory, tests, and grades. The school attendance for students who take their breakfast is high. The current study aims to look at the practice of taking or skipping breakfast and its influence on academic performance among students in Saudi Arabia.

Research Objectives

  1. To determine the factors that influence eating behavior
  2. To determine the relations between eating or skipping breakfast and academic performance

Theoretical Framework

When analyzing the feeding habits of an individual, it becomes apparent that there are numerous influences that impact food behaviors. The theory that will be used to expound on the study will be the Social cognitive theory. The social cognitive theory (SCT) posits that learning happens in a social context with a dynamic and reciprocal interaction of the person, circumstance, and behavior. From the perspective, the theory can be effective in explaining the feeding habits of adolescents and young adults that will be part of the study. The habit of taking or skipping breakfast is influenced by individuals, environment and behavioral factors. Story (2002) acknowledges that the social cognitive theory forms an ideal theory of understanding and describing the multiple influences of behavior.

Therefore, SCT addressed the unique way individuals acquire and maintain behavior while also considering the social environment upon which the individual executes the behavior. SCT operates under five main constructs. First, the theory operates under reciprocal determinism. The construct of empirical determinism is the central concept of SCT, and it refers to the dynamic and reciprocal interaction of a person, environment, and behavior. The second construct is behavioral capability, and it refers to an individual’s ability to perform behavior through knowledge and skills. The success of a behavior depends on the knowledge and ability of a person. An individual must know how a specific task is done and what it takes to complete the task.

The third construct of SCT is observational learning, and it asserts that people can witness and observe behavior conducted by others and then reproduce those actions. The fourth construct is reinforcement that asserts that the internal and external responses to a person’s behavior have a way of influencing the continuity or discontinuation of the behavior. Reinforcement can be self-motivated, or it can be triggered by the environment. Moreover, reinforcement can be positive or negative. The fifth construct is expectations, and it refers to the anticipated consequences of a person’s behavior. People have a tendency to anticipate their actions before engaging in a behavior thus resulting in the successful completion of the target behavior. Self-efficacy is the latest addition to the constructs of the SCT, and it refers to the level of a person’s trust in his or her ability to perform a behavior.

Method

The study will adopt the quantitative mode of study. The quantitative approach will be ideal because it will entail using a scientific method to understand a problem. For this study, the quantitative approach will be ideal to determine the phenomena of skipping or taking breakfast among young adults in learning institutions in Saudi Arabia. The study will involve a large group of participants thus the use o the quantitative approach will be ideal. The researcher will provide the participants with a questionnaire with questions aimed at determining who among them takes breakfast and who skips the meal. The questionnaire will also strive to seek more information about having breakfast as well as skipping the meal.

The research will look at adolescents and young adults of 13-18 years. The focus on participants from the mentioned age group is because the participants are independent enough to make decisions that entail taking or skipping breakfasts. The study will not focus on children are the children’s ability to skip or to miss breakfast is influenced largely by their parents or caregivers. 13-18 year-olds have the ability to determine whether they should take breakfast without significant influence from their guardians. Moreover, the age group has a better understanding of the importance of breakfast and thus can make an informed decision on taking or skipping breakfast.

The questionnaire will be provided at the beginning of the semester and participants will feed details on their breakfast intake or lack of on a daily basis. The questionnaires will then be collected at the end of the semester. The researcher will also liaise with the school administration so as to gather the overall student’s scores. The purpose of gathering the student scores is so that the researcher can evaluate the scores and determine whether there is a difference between students who take their breakfast and those that skip the meal. The participants will be informed of the benefits of taking breakfast over skipping the meal. The participants will also be informed of the vital information that they will receive on the relation between academic performance and taking breakfast. In short, the participants will receive a lot of benefits from their participation in the study. The only discomfort they may experience is the few minutes they will have to take from their schedules so as to answer and participate in the study.

For behavior, strength and difficulty questionnaires (SDQ) will be given. The SDQ will ask about some positive and negative attributes. The SDQ will be modified to a self-report version that will suit the age of the participants. The SDQ will take into consideration the participant’s level of understanding and their literacy levels. The SDQ will be provided online. Participants will receive detailed instruction on the purpose of the study at the beginning of the SDQ. The participants will be given an option of opting out of the online survey if they wish to do so. Therefore, students who proceed with the online survey will be assumed to have consented to their participation in the study. All the data collection method will guarantee participant anonymity.

Moreover, students will be introduced to a nutrition education program. The program will be 45 minutes long, and it will last for four weeks. The purpose of the nutrition education program is to increase awareness of the importance of breakfast. The effectiveness of the program will be reflected in the frequency or lack of frequency of breakfast intake. The nutrition education program will focus on four main factors as highlighted by Story et al. (2002). The first factor that influences food intake is individual or intrapersonal influences.the the second factor is social and environmental factors. The social and environmental factors refer to the influence o family or peers. For instance, a family that does not emphasize on breakfast is likely to have poor breakfast feeding. In contrast, a family that emphasizes on eating as a family ends up eating regular meals including breakfast. The third factor is the physical environment. The availability of fast food outlets inhibits the consumption of health foods. Students can also opt to skip healthy meals such as breakfast so that they can replace it with sweeter but less nutritious food alternatives. The last factor that influences food intake is the macro system. A society that lays little emphasis on food consumption triggers poor feeding. For instance, a family can opt to forego breakfast so that they can rush out and beat traffic or make it to their workplace or at school on time.

Participants

The participants of the study will be randomly selected from school across Tabuk City, Saudi Arabia. The participants will be informed of the intent of the study before their participation. The participants will also be informed of the benefits and potential risk of their participation in the study. The participants that will be included in the study are those that are at least 13-18 years of age. Participants below 13 years and over 18 years will be excluded from the study. The study will also exclude special needs children as the decision to take or skip meals is mostly determined by their guardians. Moreover, the study will also exclude participants with learning disabilities because their learning outcomes are affected by other outcomes other than skipping breakfast. Overall, the researcher will seek responses from many participants so that the results are valid and representative of findings from other participants. Moreover, since the participants will be minor’s the parents will be involved in determining whether their children can be participants in the study.

Philosophy of Methodology

The positivism philosophy will be adopted for the study. Positivism approach adheres to the doctrine that factual knowledge is only acquired through observation and the acquisition of measurements that is trustworthy. The focus is thus on data collection and interpretation of the data using an objective approach. Positivism depends on the quantifiable observation that leads to statistical analysis. For the study, the researcher will engage in an independent study, and there will be not provision for human interests. The researcher intends to have minimal to no interaction with the participants during the research process. The study will thus be based on facts that will be acquired from the collected data.

Factor Analysis

The process of factor analysis will entail the explanation of the structure of the data by explaining the correlation between the variable. For the study, the focus will be on explaining the correlation between breakfast and academic performance as well as breakfast and student behavior. The study will strive to determine whether one factor affects the other. For this study, the focus will be on determining whether skipping or taking of breakfast influences academic performance as well as behavior. Data will be used to make the statistical correlation and determine whether there is a relation among variables. Factor analysis will be effective for the study because it will allow for the effective summation of all data that has been collected from the participants. Factor analysis will allow the researcher to condense the data into factors that will simplify the research process.

Expected Results

The study is expected to reveal a significant relation between the intake of breakfast, academic performance, and student behavior. The data from the questionnaires is expected to reveal that very few students take breakfast on a regular basis. Moreover, the study is expected to demonstrate that most students perceive breakfast as a meal that is optional compared to other meals. On the assessment of academic performance, the study is expected to yield results that demonstrate that most students that skip breakfast have low attention levels in the classroom. Moreover, the study is expected to reveal that most students who skip breakfast record low scores compared to students who take breakfast. The findings will thus make a correlation between breakfast and academic performance with a demonstration that taking or skipping breakfast affects academic achievement.

Moreover, the study is expected to show a lack of nutritional education in Saudi Arabia. The findings will be similar to that of previous researchers. For instance, Al-Almaie (2005) found that students in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia have low levels of nutritional knowledge. The lack of nutritional knowledge means that the adolescents consume foods just for the purpose of satiety and not for its nutritional value. It is the lack of nutritional knowledge that leads to problems such as malnutrition as an individual eat but does not eat a proper and balanced diet. Other studies have also demonstrated that students score low on questions that seek to determine their role of food in health. The current study is expected to reveal a need to improve the nutritional knowledge in Saudi Arabia through nutrition education programs.

Previous literature has indicated that there is hardly any nutrition intervention available for Saudi adolescents enrolled in schools. The introduction of the nutrition education program is thus expected to result in an improvement in feeding. For instance, the introduction of the nutrition education program is expected to demonstrate an improvement in the feeding habits of students with an emphasis on nutritional value. The program is expected to also reveal an improvement in the consumption of breakfast as with knowledge, comes the appreciation that breakfast is the most critical meal of the day. Previous studies (Al-Almaie, 2005; Farghaly et al., 2007; Al-Agha et al., 2009; ALFaris et al., 2015; Benajiba, 2016) have demonstrated an urgent need for nutrition education as a step towards enhancing nutritional knowledge.

An improvement in nutritional knowledge equals to improvements in food intake and subsequent improvement in health and wellbeing. Nutritional education program as an intervention strategy also plays a role in minimizing health problems such as obesity and overweight health complications. Lack of nutritional awareness increases the tendency to reckless feeding that is demonstrated through poor feeding habits. A pilot study by Shirk (2009), on the introduction of education-based nutrition education programs, revealed that the students overall nutritional knowledge increased significantly. Similarly, an improvement in nutritional knowledge also resulted in improvement in health as the students adopted effective and healthy behavior modifications. An effective nutrition education program ascertains that students become more aware of what they are eating and the overall effect it has on their health.

For the study, the results are expected to show the need to create a nutrition program that focuses on the consumption of breakfast. Emphasis will be on relating breakfast consumption to health and academic, cognitive behavior. The acquisition of such nutritional knowledge is expected to result in an increase in the number of participants taking their breakfast. Contento (2008) defines nutrition education as the combination of educational strategies aimed at facilitation the adoption o proper food choices and nutrition-related behaviors. In the education sector, the nutrition education program can aim at enhancing awareness of the value of healthy eating. For the study, the specific focus will be on enlightening the students on the importance of breakfast.

The program will also focus on enlightening students on the importance of a healthy breakfast. The study is expected to yield results that affirm that the nutrition education program is effective in enhancing an understanding of healthy lifestyle behavior in adolescents. Ghrayeb et al. (2013) affirm to the expected findings of the study. In a study to determine the effectiveness of school-based intervention programs in Palestine, the researcher conducted a study using a control and treatment group. Ghrayeb et al. (2013) found that the school-based intervention was effective in enhancing the health knowledge of students. The study also found that the school has the greatest influence on student opinion and thus the platform can be utilized to enhance proper feeding habits.

Ethics

The study will involve human participants thus the need to maintain the highest levels of ethics. However, the study will not involve the direct manipulation of the human participants hence no harm to the participants. The study will be observational based on the analysis of the regular behavior of the participants concerning taking breakfast or skipping the meal.

Regardless, there are several ethical considerations that the researcher intends execute to guarantee the safety and privacy of the participants. First, the researcher will guarantee the privacy of the participants. The participants will be anonymous and will be allowed to use pseudo names rather than their real names. Moreover, the researcher will ensure that the information gathered about the participants is used for the study only. The participants will be assured that any private information collected during the research exercise will be used for the study and not for other non-research purposes. The researcher will also strive to engage the parents to the participants in the research process. Although the parents will not be participants in the study, their parents need to be well aware of the research, its purpose and intended outcomes. The parents and children will be informed of the entire process. For instance, they will be informed of the purpose of the study and how it would benefit them. The researcher will point out that the participants and their parents will conclude the study when they are more informed about the effect of breakfast and its influence on academic behavior and behavior. The provision of adequate information will ensure that the participants make an informed decision concerning their participation in the study.

Impact of the Study

The study is expected to demonstrate a relation between the taking and skipping of breakfast and academic performance. The findings are expected to trigger an improvement in the frequency of the consumption of breakfast. Numerous studies have acknowledged that children, adolescents, and young adults tend to forego breakfast. The study is expected to trigger an increased appreciation of the meal. The study is expected to demonstrate the influence of skipping breakfast on academic performance and behavior. Subsequently, the participants and their parents will change their feeding habits and acquire a renewed appreciation of breakfast as the most critical meal of the day. The study is expected to encourage family meal times thus motivate families to gather and eat together. It is by eating together that adolescents will be motivated to eat as well. Moreover, eating together will allow the parents o monitor their children habits thus fostering a proper breakfast that is balanced and with the appropriate nutritional quantity.

The study is also expected to trigger a nationwide introduction of a breakfast program in school. The association of breakfast with academic performance and student behavior has a direct effect on the learning process thus educators must be involved. The government and academic advocates can work towards developing a policy that guarantees that school provides breakfast. The appreciation that breakfast improves concentration and memory and subsequent performance is likely to motivate school administrators to pick up the breakfast programs and make it a mandatory meal for all its students. The provision of breakfast in schools will make up for the lack of the meals to students who will continue to forego the meals in their homes.

The study is also expected to trigger an introduction of a national wide nutrition education program. The program will be introduced in schools with the intent to create awareness on the importance of taking breakfast. The program will strive to highlight the importance of not only breakfast but proper nutrition. Students need to be conscious of what they are eating thus minimize the over consumption of nonnutritious foods. The education program will aim to create awareness of the relation between proper nutrition and health. The findings are expected to motivate the students to a habit of taking breakfast on a daily basis so as to promote alertness. Students will be motivated to take breakfast if they realize that there is a connection between the meal and their academic performance.

Possible Limitations of the Study

The random provision of questionnaires is a trial and error method as it is not a guarantee that all those that will receive the questionnaires will respond to them. It would have been best for the researcher to perform a purposive selection of participants where he will be assured of the number of participants who will engage in the study. The other limitation is the duration of the study. It would be best for the study to take a longer duration than a term so as to determine the effectiveness of regular breakfast intake. The effective of the cognitive functioning of the brain as a result of the brain does not necessarily result in immediate positive academic outcomes. A longer duration of study would reveal whether students recorded and maintained improved academic performance as well as improved behavior.

There is also need to consider that there are other factors that can influence the ability to a student to excel in their studies. Factors such as environmental disturbances like noise can influence academic performance irrespective of breakfast intake. Other factors such as the mode of teaching and the child’s interest in learning and school as a whole can influence academic performance. A student behavior can also be influenced by factors such as psychological wellness. It is essential, therefore, for the researcher to determine how to he can overcome the external factors so that they do not influence the outcomes of the study. There is a need for further research on the long-term impact of the consumption of a regular breakfast. The determination of the long-term impact will be critical in determining whether daily breakfast consumption will lead to sustainable and positive outcomes on students academic performance and behavior.

Reference

Gharayeb, F. & Rusli, M., Ismail, M., (2013). The effectiveness of nutrition education intervention among high school students in Tarqumia, Palestine. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition. Vol. 12(8): 787-792.

Shirk, B. (2009). A school-based intervention increased nutrition knowledge in high school students. The Ohio State University

Story, M. (2009). Individual and environmental influences on adolescent eating behavior. Supplement. Vol. 102(3)

Sherry Roberts is the author of this paper. A senior editor at Melda Research in do my paper writing services if you need a similar paper you can place your order for a custom research paper from essay writing help services.

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"Janet Peter is the Managing Director of a globally competitive essay writing company.

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