Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

First Advisor

Susan W. Arendt


School nutrition programs provide meals and snacks to nutritionally support students in their academic achievement. The importance of qualified leadership to maintain standards and provide quality these meals and snacks is important. Limited research has examined the benefits of registered dietitians providing school nutrition leadership. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the motivational aspects and job responsibilities influencing registered dietitians' (RD) and senior dietetic students' decision to pursue school nutrition leadership positions.

The Southeast Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) region was the focus of the research. Web-based questionnaires were used to collect responses from members of the School Nutrition Services Dietetic Practice Group (SNSDPG) members and senior dietetic students from 22 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic accredited didactic programs in this area. Reasons RDs (N = 158) selected school nutrition leadership and reasons dietetic students (N = 129) would consider selecting a position in school nutrition were examined and compared. Motivational aspects and job responsibilities providing satisfaction for RDs were identified. The reasons students would not select school nutrition as a career option were also examined.

Key aspects influencing RD selection of school nutrition leadership positions were want to engage/work with people (M = 4.55; SD = 0.68) and achieved a positive outcome (M = 4.53; SD = 0.64). Employee opportunities and outcomes were identified as the aspects impacting RD selection. Student selection of potential school nutrition leadership positions was influenced by impact others' health and well-being (M = 4.42; SD = 0.63), positive impact on preventing childhood obesity (M = 4.32; SD = 0.76) and influence others (M = 4.37; SD = 0.65). Students not selecting a school nutrition position were influenced by intentions to develop clinical dietetics knowledge (M = 3.51; SD = 1.10) and clinical skills (M = 3.36; SD = 1.11). Comparisons between RD and student selection of school nutrition responses differences were significant (p < 0.0001) for aspects such as foodservice leadership skills, work schedule preference, make a difference in the world and preventing childhood obesity.

Based on the results of this research, aspects influencing current RDs to select school nutrition appear to be associated with working with others to achieve a positive outcome. While the senior dietetic students demonstrated interest in school nutrition for the opportunity to make a difference in the world, specifically with health. Consideration of these aspects may be beneficial to school districts seeking to recruit qualified individuals, specifically RDs, into school nutrition leadership positions.

Keywords: Leadership, job responsibilities, motivational aspects, school nutrition, registered dietitian.


Copyright Owner

Linette Jean Dodson



File Format


File Size

202 pages