Project LifeLab Food and Health – Innovative Teaching for the Future: Development of Student Active Learning Tasks for Home Economics Education in the 21st Century

Keywords: home economics, food and health, active learning tasks, life skills, school


Food and Health, previously referred to as Home Economics, is a mandatory school subject in Norway. It has the unique advantage of giving all students, regardless of their social background, practical skills and knowledge, life skills that are important for their future health. In the LifeLab Food and Health project, we have developed a research-based and innovative teaching programme and evaluated how it is perceived in a school setting in Norway. This teaching programme is for use in Food and Health teacher education, but also in the education of primary and lower secondary school students in the same subject. LifeLab Food and Health consists of learning tasks in which students in the sixth and ninth grades in school gain first-hand knowledge and an understanding of life skills that are important to manage everyday life. In this paper, we present the learning activities developed and how the students experienced them. Examples of such learning tasks are tasks revealing the science behind dietary guidelines and the promotion of a healthy diet through student active tasks. Our aim is to establish LifeLab Food and Health as a “best practice” within master’s education in Home Economics at the University of Agder in Norway.


Download data is not yet available.


Afshin, A., John Sur, P., Fay, K. A., Cornaby, L., Ferrara, G., Salama, J. S., Mullany, E. C., Hassen Abate, K., Abbafati, C., Abebe, Z., Afarideh, M., Aggarwal, A., Agrawal, S., Akinyemiju, T., Alahdab, F., Bacha, U., Bachman, V. F., Badali, H., Badawi, A., … Murray, C. J. L. (2019). Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. The Lancet, 393, 1958–1972.

Askeland, N., Skjelbred, D., Aamotsbakken, B., & Maagerø, E. (2017). Norsk lærebokhistorie [Norwegian textbook history]. Scandinavian University Press.

Beinert, C. (2021). “An unexploited potential” LifeLab Food and Health: Assessment and development of teaching and learning practices in the Norwegian school subject food and health (Doctoral dissertation). University of Agder.

Beinert, C., Palojoki, P., Åbacka, G., Hardy-Johnson, P., Engeset, D., Hillesund, E. R., Ask, A. M. S., Øverby, N. C., & Vik, F. N. (2020). The mismatch between teaching practices and curriculum goals in Norwegian Home Economics classes: A missed opportunity. Education Inquiry, 12(2), 183–201.

Beinert, C., Palojoki, P., Åbacka, G. K., Øverby, N. C., & Vik, F. N. (2021). “Is there any sugar in bread?” A qualitative video analysis of student activating learning tasks in Home Economics. Acta Didactica Norden, 15(1), 1–21.

Burton, M., Riddell, L., & Worsley, A. (2018). Food consumers’ views of essential food knowledge and skills for all consumers. Health Education, 118(3), 277–288.

Caraher, M. (2019). Home economics - A personal reflection on 30 years of work, friendships and the future. Journal of the Home Economics Institute of Australia, 25(2).

Craigie, A. M., Lake, A. A., Kelly, S. A., Adamson, A. J., & Mathers, J. C. (2011). Tracking of obesity-related behaviours from childhood to adulthood: A systematic review. In Maturitas, 70(3), 266–284) .

Cruz, F., Ramos, E., Lopes, C., & Araújo, J. (2018). Tracking of food and nutrient intake from adolescence into early adulthood. Nutrition, 55–56, 84–90.

Directorate for Education and Training. (2019a). Core curriculum – values and principles for primary and secondary education.

Directorate for Education and Training. (2019b). Læreplan i mat og helse [Curriculum for food and health].

Dumont, H., Istance, D., & Benavides, F. (2012). How can the learning sciences inform the design of 21 st century learning environments? The nature of learning using research to inspire practice - practitioner guide.

Espeland, M., Arnesen, T. E., Grønsdal, I. A., Holthe, A., Sømoe, K., Wergedahl, H., & Aadland, H. (2013). Skolefagsundersøkelsen 2011 [School subject survey 2011].

European Commission. (2014). EU Action Plan on Childhood Obesity 2014–2020.

Fackler, S., & Malmberg, L. E. (2016). Teachers’ self-efficacy in 14 OECD countries: Teacher, student group, school and leadership effects. Teaching and Teacher Education, 56, 185–195.

Grosso, G., Mistretta, A., Turconi, G., Cena, H., Roggi, C., & Galvano, F. (2013). Nutrition knowledge and other determinants of food intake and lifestyle habits in children and young adolescents living in a rural area of Sicily, South Italy. Public Health Nutrition, 16(10), 1827–1836.

Hansen Brooke, L., Myhre Borch, J., Johannesen Wetting, A. M., Paulsen Mohn, M., & Andersen Frost, L. (2016). UNGKOST 3 Landsomfattende kostholdsundersøkelse blant elever i 4. og 8. klasse i Norge, 2015 [UNGKOST 3 Nationwide dietary survey among pupils in the 4th and 8th grade in Norway, 2015].

Kay, K. (2015). 21st century skills: Why they matter, what they are, and how we get there. In J. A. Bellanca & R. S. Brandt (Eds.), 21st century skills: Rethinking how students learn (p. 375). Solution Tree Press.

Lassen, K. (2020). Skolekjøkkenets hemmeligheter: En kvalitativ studie om lærernes matlagingsundervisning på ungdomsskolekjøkkenet [Secrets of the school kitchen: A qualitative study of teachers cooking education in the lower secondary school kitchen]. (Doctoral dissertation). University of South-Eastern Norway.

Ministry of Health and Care Services. (2017). Norwegian National Action Plan for a Healthier Diet – an outline. Healthy diet, meal enjoyment and good health for everyone!

Norwegian Directorate of Health. (2011). Kostråd for å fremme folkehelsen og forebygge kroniske sykdommer [Dietary advice to promote public health and prevent chronic diseases].

Øvrebø, E. M. (2014). Knowledge and attitudes of adolescents regarding home economics in Tromsø, Norway. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 38(1), 2–11.

Statistics Norway. (2020, December). Pupils in primary and lower secondary school - annually - SSB.

Taar, J. (2017). Interthinking in Estonian home economics education. (Doctoral dissertation). University of Helsinki.

Veka, I., Wergedahl, H., & Holthe, A. (2018). Oppskriften – den skjulte læreplanen i mat og helse Sammendrag [The recipe – the hidden curriculum in the subject Food and Health]. Acta Didactica Norge, 12(3), 1–21.

Vik, F. N., Beinert, C., Palojoki, P., Hillesund, Elisabet Rudjord Engeset, D., Ask, A. S., Åbacka, G., & Øverby, N. C. (2020). Differences in formal education among Norwegian Home Economics teachers. Journal of the International Society for Teacher Education, 24(2), 45–59.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society the development of higher psychological processes. M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Schribner, & E. Souberman (Eds.), Harvard University Press.

Woods-Townsend, K., Bagust, L., Barker, M., Christodoulou, A., Davey, H., Godfrey, K., Grace, M., Griffiths, J., Hanson, M., & Inskip, H. (2015). Engaging teenagers in improving their health behaviours and increasing their interest in science (Evaluation of LifeLab Southampton): Study protocol for a cluster randomized controlled trial. Trials, 16(1).

World Health Organization. (2006). Food and nutrition policy for schools - A tool for the development of school nutrition programmes in the European Region.

World Health Organization. (2015). European Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2015–2020.