Mapping Sheffield-based nutrition enterprises: a Students as Researchers Project (2014)

Jenny Paxman, Katie Robinson, Ruth Whiteside and Rachel Rundle

This project employed a student researcher who took a desk-based research and face-to-face interview approach in making contact with a range of nutrition enterprises.  The aim was to find out more about their work and partners in order to build up a city-wide picture.  The working relationship developed between the staff on the project and the student researcher was mutually beneficial.  The student honed her research skills and benefitted from engagement with the profession.  She also received valuable specialist training to use mapping software.  The staff developed better appreciation of the student perspective to employability in nutrition along with a comprehensive picture of nutrition enterprise in the local community.

The primary output from this project is an interactive map designed for use by students and staff within the University, and by nutrition enterprises outside of the University, for a range of teaching, training, placements, work experience and networking purposes. The map is designed to highlight the opportunities available to Nutritionists in the current employment market.

This project has involved:

  • re-engagement with known enterprises with which we have an established relationship;
  • engagement with enterprises previously unknown to us;
  • exploration of the nature and purpose of each enterprise and characterisation of their networks within the sector;
  • identification of enterprises that employ Registered Nutritionists;
  • mapping of this information in a visually useful way.

The map presents ‘real-life’ information.  We anticipate this will help students identify opportunities for experiential learning and enable the University to nurture or develop strong partnerships with local enterprises that employ Nutritionists.

Through this project we hope to maximise student employability.   Thus, we anticipate the map will be of particular use in employability-focussed modules (e.g. Working in the Lifestyle Sector, Professional Practice in Nutrition) to help establish volunteer opportunities for students and enhance course identity.