Promoting children's acceptance of fish through sensory-based experiments and experiential learning: Breaking through the disgust barrier

Rikke Højer, Michael Bom Frøst

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftPosterForskningpeer review

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Danes eat less fish than recommended by health authorities. Children in the age range 10-17 years only eat 105 g fish per week. In schools, the course Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) is a unique setting for promoting diverse and healthy food habits. This study examines if children’s acceptance of fish can be positively affected through experiential learning. Fresh fish has a particular smell and slime-cover. This is the first barrier to be overcome in the acceptance process. This observational study unfolds how this barrier of disgust can be overcome in a school setting in FCS. Pupils (11-13 year old, 5th-6th grade, six public schools, n = 125) were observed while carrying out a sensory-based experiment in FCS with dab/flounder (Limanda limanda/Platichthys flesus). The experiment consisted of four elements: Gyotaku (classic Japanese printing technique with fish), filleting, frying the fillets followed by tasting (voluntary). During observation special focus was on pupils’ first reaction when seeing the fresh fish, and how this reaction developed or changed during the sensory-based interaction. Typical initial reactions were disgust. This was expressed both verbally (smelled “fishy” and felt “slimy”) and with mimics indicating disgust. Over the Gyotaku process steps, the reaction started to change. Now the approach was characterised by curiosity and exploration. Even though disgust signs seemed to reappear in the filleting process, this was quickly converted to a “this is how it is” approach. The majority of pupils choose to taste their fried dab/flounder fillet; also pupils that showed intense disgust in the beginning. This observational study showed that by shifting the focus from eating the fish to using the fish as a creative medium facilitating exploration of other aspects of the fish children’s disgust disappeared. Furthermore, this experiential teaching appears to deeply engage the pupils in their class work.
Publikationsdato21 aug. 2017
StatusUdgivet - 21 aug. 2017
BegivenhedPangborn Sensory science symposium - USA, Rhode Island
Varighed: 17 aug. 201720 aug. 2017


KonferencePangborn Sensory science symposium
ByRhode Island


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