Children's Understandings of Health and Health-Related Behavior: The Influence of Age and Information Source

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Eddie Hebert and Kay Daigle, Southeastern Louisiana University, and Amelia Lee, Louisiana State University

One recent shift in pedagogical research reflects an increasing interest in the conceptions and understandings of children. Driven by cognition-based theoretical frameworks, studies have examined children's understandings of a variety of topics and issues including effort and skill relationships (Veal and Compagnone, 1995) and perceptions of competence (McKiddie and Maynard, 1997). The results of these studies provide information about the manner in which students conceptualize and value content, factors that significantly impact behavior. Many contemporary health problems are a result of lifestyle, and one important goal of Physical Education is to assist children learn about health and health-promoting behavior. Since the 1970s, researchers have examined children's understandings of health-based concepts (see Mickalide, 1986 for a review), however most have focused on illness and disease, with relatively little describing conceptions of health and behaviors which promote or detract from it. The purpose of t his study was to describe children's understandings of health and health-related behavior and the major sources of information they use to develop these conceptions. Children (N = 106) between the ages of 6 and 10 drew two pictures (one of a healthy person, the other of an unhealthy person) and were interviewed to explore their conceptions of health and sources of health-related information. …