Institutions of Higher Education Pre-Service School Health Education Practices

By Davidson, Brad; Telljohann, Susan K. et al. | American Journal of Health Education, November-December 2010 | Go to article overview

Institutions of Higher Education Pre-Service School Health Education Practices


Davidson, Brad, Telljohann, Susan K., Dake, Joseph A., Price, James H., American Journal of Health Education


ABSTRACT

Background: The quality of health education teachers is, in large part, dependent on the education they receive from their teacher preparation program. Purpose: This study assessed institutions of higher education (IHE) teaching practices in school health teacher preparation programs regarding the amount of time spent and content taught related to various health education tools and products (e.g. National Health Education Standards, the Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool and the School Health Index). Methods: A survey (87 items) that demonstrated validity and reliability was mailed to the population of 225 lead school health education faculty at IHEs that offered school health licensure or certification programs. Results: The response rate was 59.6% (134/225). Faculty who taught how to use a variety of health education materials varied (30.6% to 89.6%), depending on the tools and products. Discussion: A primary responsibility of IHEs should be to help pre-service teachers utilize the tools and products described in this study. Many IHEs do not train their pre-service school health education majors to use these tools and products. Translation to Health Education Practice: Quality school health teacher preparation includes being trained on how to use these tools and products. To improve the quality of education provided by IHEs to pre-service school health education teachers, methods faculty need more training on incorporating these various tools into their curriculum.

Am J Health Educ. 2010;41(6):329-336. This paper was submitted to the Journal on February 15, 2009, revised and accepted for publication on May 1, 2010.

BACKGROUND

Each day over 50 million students attend private and public schools across America. (1) Nationwide, most middle schools (86.3%) and high schools (90.2%) have adopted a policy requiring health education. (2) The health of these students can be impacted positively by having high quality health instruction from their health education teachers. (3) Health education has been shown to positively influence student health by reducing the prevalence of a variety of risky health behaviors. (4-6)

The quality of the health education teacher is partially dependent upon the education they receive from their school health teacher preparation program. Therefore, it is important that institutions of higher education (IHE) school health teacher preparation programs have quality programs and teach pre-service students the most current information, tools, products and skills available in health education. Pre-service health education teacher preparation programs play a significant role in preparing future school health educators. Frauenknecht best summarized this issue by stating, "Standards for teachers in all subject areas, including health education, were needed to specifically determine the competencies for professional development to be demonstrated." (7(p.24)) Frauenknecht also noted that "professional standards for health education teachers have been developed based on the necessary content, pedagogical and professional knowledge and skills to teach both independently and collaboratively." (7(p. 24)) The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) is the primary organization that determines if teaching licensure programs in IHEs are meeting professional standards. (8) NCATE worked with the American Association for Health Education (AAHE) to determine the health education standards IHEs must meet to be accredited by NCATE. (8) Out of the 225 IHEs that have a school health licensure/certification program, only 34 have been accredited by NCATE. While achieving AAHE/NCATE accreditation is difficult, there are several advantages. For example, teacher candidates who graduate from NCATE-accredited schools will be better prepared for initial licensing and advanced board certification, graduates of NCATE-accredited colleges of education pass Educational Testing Services content examinations for teacher licensing at a higher rate than do graduates of unaccredited colleges and graduates of NCATE-accredited schools will generally find it easier to apply for licensure when they move out of state. …

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