Research on Jump with Jill demonstrates kids are tuned in to Jill. Not only does Jump with Jill get kids rockin’ and learnin’, the messages translate into an overwhelming positive response to the show and measurable behavioral improvements.
- Jump with Jill was an extremely popular strategy for teaching elementary school-aged children about healthy eating. School support for the performances was extremely strong, as illustrated by teacher willingness to use materials prior to the show (unexpected and contrary to most interventions) as well as through campus leader communications to students and the community prior to performance. This enthusiasm spurred:
- an overwhelming willingness to try healthy foods – 94% of students trying foods presented to them,
- moderating extreme negative opinions of healthy foods – the number of extreme negative responses decreased no matter which group students were in.
- and sustaining motivation over time – changes recorded at the post-test remained at the follow-up test four weeks later.
- Jump with Jill creates a positive learning environment. Over 95% of students reported enjoying their experience with Jump with Jill and teachers expressed their gratitude for bringing classroom lessons to life.
- Jump with Jill is a geographically smart way to reach pockets of Texas where there is highly engaged schools with a high need for quality nutrition programming.
In support of the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) Commissioner Sid Miller’s Farm Fresh Fridays initiative, the rock & roll nutrition show Jump with Jill performed at 20 schools and 20 child care centers in the Rio Grande Valley in September and October of 2016. The Texas Farm Fresh Jump with Jill Live Tour is designed to teach students about healthy eating and to draw their attention to Texas agricultural products including fruits, vegetables, and dairy. To increase impact, schools received “Texas CRATES” filled with follow-up educational materials for classroom teachers. In addition, taste tests were conducted with selected classrooms to give students a hands-on experience with the local foods featured in the show. With a multi-year approach in place, this program impact report was built into the execution of the live shows, material rollout, and taste testings to showcase the continued efficacy of the partnership.
School districts that participated on this tour were selected based on an evaluation matrix that included criteria of: free and reduced percentage population of students (related to National School Lunch Program participation), participation in TDA’s Local Products Challenge, application to TDA’s Expanding 3Es of Healthy Living Grant, response to TDA survey indicating participation in Farm to School, participation in the 2015 and/or 2016 Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grant Program and whether the county location is considered rural. School districts participating in the tour had a free and reduced percentage of 90 percent or higher.
For convenience, one 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade class at six elementary schools was randomly selected to participate as the “survey” classroom. For both the Intervention and Comparison Groups, the student population was a mix of 3rd through 5th grade, equally divided by gender.In total, 106 students were surveyed with nine questions, using an interactive testing procedure that reflected the tone of the live show students would soon experience. Rather than written surveys, students answered questions by lining up behind an emoji that best described their response to each question.
The emojis represented a Likert scale and were arranged from 1 to 5 to read negative (left) to positive (right). In addition to making the activity kinesthetic, lining-up rather than hand-raising prevented multiple voting by students. Before starting the survey, student participants made a “Promise to be Honest” as a commitment to share their true feelings about their answers. Students were guided to select their responses in their head before moving to their answers to further diminish the impact of peer influence.
Prior to Jump with Jill coming to any school, teachers were provided with the link to the Jump with Jill website and a custom designed “Texas Crate” that included danceable music videos, morning announcements, posters, and activity books with teacher guides. Three “intervention” schools were selected to complete a pre-survey, then watch the show, complete a taste test, and then take a post-survey. Their results reflect exposure to the materials and the live show. The three “comparison” schools were selected to complete a pre-survey, complete a taste test, then take a post-survey. Following the post-survey, they watched the show. Hence, their pre- and post-survey results capture exposure to Jump with Jill through the materials and website only. The only difference between the comparison and intervention was the order that they saw the show.
As both the comparison and the intervention schools eventually saw the show, all were eligible to be follow-up schools. This was the first opportunity of Jump with Jill to be able to revisit schools to assess a more longterm impact. Four schools were selected for follow-up surveys to occur four weeks after seeing the show (2 from each study arm). During those four weeks, classroom teachers were asked to complete five hours (15-min per day) of follow-up activities from the CRATE.
Crate materials included cafeteria posters (in English and Spanish), educational materials, morning announcements, and the danceable music video series. Events included English and Spanish information for students. Teachers were provided with a detailed description of what to find in the box and were allowed to select whatever activities they wished. To motivate compliance, teachers were told they would be surveyed in four weeks time to report their experience with utilizing the provided tools. After the four weeks, the students retook the pre-survey, completed another taste test, and answered a second post-survey. These follow-up results attempt to capture the sustained impact of the shows and the resonance of the materials that complement the live show.
Taste tests serve to assist in TDA’s program goals to increase awareness and exposure to actual Texas-grown agricultural products. Foods to sample were also chosen based on their emphasis in the show. Cucumbers are mentioned in Superpower Vegetables, “The Bone Rap” features a low fat cheese backbeat, and Nature’s Candy song riffs on the word watermelon – who is also on stage next to the DJ wearing headphones of his own. In the same way that the show makes nutrition education a rock show and a survey into a game, Jump with Jill designed the guided taste tests to be like a character meet-and-greet. It was the goal to bias the experience in favor of the new, healthy foods so that kids would enjoy and engage. Jill & DJ served three sample foods: watermelon, cucumber, and low fat cheese either at lunch or in the classroom depending on availability. Jill & DJ recorded whether students tried or did not try the provided food so the “try rate” could be used as a measure of impact.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
Jump with Jill creates a positive learning environment. Over 95% of students reported enjoying their experience with Jump with Jill. A positive experience can have meaningful measurements for likelihood of healthy behaviors. Researchers have noted high intensity emotional experiences has an increased influence on behavior, so strong it can even overwhelm cognitive processing. Nutrition education in the form of a rock show is a strategic choice to empower audiences to action.
All schools involved in the project were so ecstatic to be chosen for the tour that they started using the Jump with Jill songs, dance moves, and materials well before Jump with Jill’s arrival. This was unanticipated event from a study design perspective because pre-materials are typically underutilized until the live show shocks staff into looking further into their mailroom. Instead, we were greeted at both intervention and comparison schools with welcome signs, fan mail, and general hysteria including group hugs, gift baskets, and CRATE materials on display.
These schools were pumped and it seriously impacted our study design – mainly that pre-test schools for both groups would come in unusually high which would not leave much room for measuring an improvement from the intervention. We learned that this level of engagement has important implications for spurring an overwhelming willingness to try healthy foods, moderating extreme negative opinions of healthy foods, and sustaining motivation over time.
Students responded most strongly to foods and behaviors associated with songs. Low fat cheese was featured in “The Bone Rap” and a headphone wearing watermelon was prominently displayed on stage, which appear to have led to measurable differences between groups.
Improvements from Jump with Jill are highly impactful over time – changes recorded at the post-test remained at the follow-up test four weeks later. Even more powerful, responses never went down.
High baseline scores support that selecting engaged schools to be a part of the tour is an effective way to to build momentum for a nutrition initiative i.e. encourage acceptance of changes to the school lunch program, participating in farm-to-school, etc. Even after Jill & DJ have come and gone, students are still expressing the same level of enthusiasm.
Jump with Jill creates realistic impressions of healthy foods, moderating negative responses no matter what group students were in. The number of extreme negative responses decreased no matter which group students were in. Kids define themselves by what they don’t eat – that is until they enter the world of Jump with Jill. The intention of Jump with Jill is to deconstruct the framework that kids have built with their dislikes and break ground with newfound attitudes and aspirations.
Jump with Jill showed strong improvements on willingness to try low fat cheese, a major Texas-produced commodity, and an important but often untouched area for a nutrition intervention. The Intervention Group showed sustained significantly higher scores throughout the study for willingness to try low fat cheese. This is an important finding in that there has not been much attention paid to changing students’ acceptance of lower-fat cheese. Unlike other reduced-fat products that remove fat but add back sugars or other substances that maintain the energy level of the product, lower fat dairy products actually just remove the fat (and hence the calories). Students enjoy many cheese-containing products – pizza, tacos, quesadillas, mac and cheese. If students accept lower-fat cheese products, their use in school and at home could help in reducing overall fat and energy intakes, thereby potentiating their role in child obesity prevention.
Jump with Jill is a geographically smart way to reach pockets of Texas where there is highly engaged schools with a high need for quality nutrition programming. Over the length of the study, almost all students in all groups tried every food presented to them! This is a powerful indicator that motivation can be cultivated with an engaged group of students and a character-guided experience can lead to actually trying a food, not just saying that they might.
Jump for Jill energizes students and teachers alike. Teacher surveys reflect gratitude and enthusiasm for bringing classroom lessons to life.
Despite our attempts to bridge cultural gaps, foods for sampling needed additional consideration. Baseline results for cucumber are significantly lower than watermelon and low fat cheese, and did not improve with the intervention. While this is often true for fruits versus vegetables, we learned that most students hadn’t ever eaten an unseasoned raw cucumber. Instead they preferred it served with Tajin, a brand name fruit and vegetable seasoning with mild chili peppers, lime, and sea salt.
Full Study Citation Information
Jayne, Jill (2017). Texas Farm Fresh Jump with Jill Live Tour Performances and Taste Testings Findings. Retrieved from www.jumpwithjill.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/2016-Texas-Farm-Fresh-Jump-with-Jill-Live-Tour-Performances-and-Taste-Testings-Findings.pdf
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EAT.RIGHT.NOW. (ERN) is a multi-faceted health and nutrition education outreach program for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) eligible students enrolled in The School District of Philadelphia. Children from households earning a gross income of <130% of poverty qualify for SNAP benefits. The program is one component of the larger Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Tracks (PA TRACKS) initiative, which seeks to improve food choices and encourage physical activity among school-age children in the state.
During the 2012-2013 school year (SY), The School District of Philadelphia (SDP) administered a nutrition and physical activity-related assembly programming called Jump with Jill to SNAP-Ed eligible schools. Over 100 live Jump with Jill performances are delivered each school year to high need schools throughout Philadelphia. Teachers are provided with follow-up materials to continue the impact of the show in the classroom.
“A strategic decision was made to focus the student evaluation using only one grade [5th grade]” (Dahl et al. 62) to provide a large sample size and simplify analysis. “The assembly evaluation assessed the impact of assembly performances on the following factors:
- Students’ knowledge of key nutrition and physical activity messages.
- Students’ reactions to the assemblies and teachers’ perceptions of their students’ reactions;
- Student and teacher satisfaction with the assemblies; and
- Teachers’ interest in, and use of, the assembly supplemental materials” (62).
Pre- and post-surveys for Jump with Jill included “both nutrition and physical activity” (63) questions because Jump with Jill was the only assembly on the ERN roster to cover both topics. Written surveys for Jump with Jill “were completed by 127 [5th grade] students…. Within this sample, 62 (48.8%) were females and 65 (51.2%) were males. The majority of students were Black (n=76, 59.8%), followed by White (n=23, 18.1%), multiracial (n=11, 8.7%), Asian (n=10, 7.9%) and Hispanic (n=7, 5.5%)” (72). “…[E]lectronic surveys were completed by 204 teachers” (73). Fifth grade teachers represented only 8.6% of the teachers completing the survey.
- “Teachers indicated a positive perception of the Jump with Jill assembly” (74). Compared to other assemblies on the ERN roster, “Jump with Jill scored highest on entertainment value…” (81). “Teachers found the assembly to be excellent in entertainment value (79.4%) and student engagement (73.2%)” (74). Comments from teachers included praising Jump with Jill for “great direct instruction” (80) and student involvement (80). Jump with Jill had the highest teacher survey completion rate of other assemblies on the ERN roster (73).
- In studies where actual behavior is difficult to measure (for example, 5th graders in inner-city Philadelphia), research relies on indicators of behavioral such as emotional affect. Used frequently in consumer research, emotional affect is used to measure likelihood of buying, owning, and using a product. In nutrition research, enjoyment is linked to increased likelihood of regular participation in a behavior (Gao, Podlog, and Huang 123). According to teachers, students’ emotional affect was reported as “very excited (92.4%), very happy (92.4%),… and not at all bored (94.4%) (Dahl et al. 74). By comparison, another ERN nutrition assembly rated students quite differently – only 12% of students were very excited, 14% were very happy, and 45.7% were very bored (65)!
- The positive emotional affect scores for Jump with Jill are meaningful measurements for likelihood of healthy behaviors. Researchers have examined high intensity emotional experiences as having an increased influence on behavior, so strong it can even overwhelm cognitive processing (Davidson, Scherer, and Goldsmith 9). Nutrition education in the form of a rock show is a strategic choice to empower audiences to action.
- “…[T]eacher feedback further indicated that students’ responded well to the music and CD tracks provided with the assembly performance” (81). “The majority (n=171, 83.8%) of teachers used the supplemental assembly lessons in their classrooms, where 55.6% of teachers (n=95) taught the lessons,… 68.7% of teachers (n=117) assigned the assembly handouts in class or as homework. Of the 33 teachers who did not use the supplemental assembly lessons, the main reason was lack of time (n=17, 51.5%)” (70).
- Students who watched the Jump with Jill assembly “responded with more specific examples about why they should eat healthy foods, as well as kinds of healthy and unhealthy foods. For example, students who viewed Jump with Jill provided examples of healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole wheat bread, milk, cheese, and breakfast, and referenced MyPlate portions of fruits and vegetables” (79). Students who viewed another ERN nutrition assembly spoke about foods in “more general food categories” (79). Jump with Jill attributes this to the use of highly-visual food props integrated into the show’s presentation.
- Of students who viewed Jump with Jill, more than half (60.8%) of responses about learning something new referred to healthy eating, “such as why they should eat healthy foods more often, portions of the plate that should be filled with fruits and vegetables, and the importance of eating breakfast” (78). Another ERN nutrition assembly took a different approach, instead almost half of student responses (44%) to learning something new referred to unhealthy eating, including “kinds of unhealthy foods” (74) and “health problems related to eating a poor diet” (79). Jump with Jill attributes this finding to the strategic use of healthy anthems that celebrate healthy food choices.
- “Evaluators could not adequately draw strong conclusions on the knowledge changes from pre- to post-surveys due to the high level of knowledge pre-assembly” (83).
Full Study Citation Information
Dahl, A., Halkyard, K., Benjamin, G., & Wolford, T. (2013). Eat. Right. Now. FY 2013 Evaluation Report. The School District of Philadelphia Office of Research and Evaluation, Philadelphia, PA.
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View two-page summary.
In support of America on the Move, Fort Wayne Cardiology in Indiana conducted an independent evaluation of Jump with Jill in the fall of 2009. Researchers determined the show had a meaningful impact on 3rd, 4th and 5th graders’ behavior including a self-reported increase in physical activity, drinking more water, and drinking less soda. Seven weeks after watching Jump with Jill, 153 students completed a questionnaire examining their responses to the performance. Even after significant time had past, kids could still recall the show’s messages, particularly about the importance of physical activity. It’s the Beat of the Body – woot! woot!
After seeing the Jump with Jill show:
- 75% of all students reported trying to be more active.
- 81% of 4th graders and 74% of 3rd graders reported trying to drink more water.
- 58% of the 3rd graders reported trying to drink less soda.
- 80% of 3rd graders reported telling a parent about Jill’s health and nutrition messages.
- More than half of 3rd and 4th graders reported that a family member had changed their behavior due to Jill’s messages – drinking more water, drinking less soda, and/or being more active.
Seven Months After Jump with Jill
Of particular significance is a follow-up study conducted seven months after students’ exposure to Jump with Jill. The message regarding the importance of physical activity remained especially strong and continued to be recalled at similar rates to the initial assessment at seven weeks.(1)
(1) Follow-up results apply only to 3rd and 4th graders, as 5th graders were not available for the follow-up study because they moved to the Middle School.
Full Study Citation Information
Chubinski, S. (2009). Report of baseline and 7 month data from children and adults about Jump with Jill program. America on the Move board meeting, Fort Wayne, IN.
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