Academic journal article Journal of School Health

A Comparison of Self-Reported Health Education Competencies among Selected School Health Educators in the United States and Taiwan, R.O.C

Academic journal article Journal of School Health

A Comparison of Self-Reported Health Education Competencies among Selected School Health Educators in the United States and Taiwan, R.O.C

Article excerpt

A Comparison of Self-Reported Health Education Competencies Among Selected School Health Educators In the United States and Taiwan, R.O.C.

The need and interest in developing entry-level competencies for practicing health educators has been evident for years. [1,2] In 1978, a national workshop was held in Bethesda, Md., to discuss commonalities and differences in the preparation and practice of health educators. As a result, the National Task Force on the Preparation and Practice of Health Educators was established and the Role Delineation Project initiated. The Task Force goal involved developing a credentialing system for the profession that would be applicable to health educators regardless of practice setting. [2] After years of deliberation and discussion by the profession, a common core of responsibilities and competencies for entry-level health educators was established. [3]

A self-assessment instrument, consisting of two portions, was developed to promote and facilitate the credentialing process. [4] One portion asks individuals to assess how competent they feel in performing the skills of health educators as identified by the Task Force. The second portion asks individuals to respond to the usefulness and importance of the skills in performing their job as health educators. The instrument has been used to assess health education competencies in a variety of setting including schools and community health agencies. [5,6] It also has been used with health educators at inservice workshops for continuing professional development. [7]

While attention has focused on applying the standards in various ways to the preparation and practice of health educators in the U.S., no studies have examined the applicability of the standards to health educators in other countries. Thus, a preliminary, cross-cultural study was undertaken involving subjects in the U.S. and in Taiwan, Republic of China. The study was designed to serve two purposes: to establish baseline data concerning the professional preparation and practice of health educators in Taiwan, R.O.C., and to examine applicability of the self-assessment instrument for use in cross-national comparisons.

METHOD

Background

Taiwan has emerged as an industrialized country during the past three decades; its health education program has shown similar improvement during the same period. [8] Health instruction is required at the junior high school level and is taught by full-time health educators. Most school health educators are prepared by the Dept. of Health Education at the National Taiwan Normal University where students complete four years of study in health education plus one year of student teaching. Other health education teachers are college graduates prepared in health-related disciplines including nursing, physical education, biology, home economics, or pharmacy with additional training in general education and specific health education courses. While the government has developed guidelines for professional preparation in health education, no official certification program currently exists for school health educators in Taiwan.

Participants

Two groups of school health educators participated in the study. Group 1 consisted of 33 teachers (25 women and eight men) from Taiwan enrolled in a summer graduate program at the Graduate Institute of Health Education, offered by National Taiwan Normal University in 1988. The average age for Group 1 was 37 years with a range from 27-52. The average years of teaching experience was 13 years, with a range from 3-30 years. Ninety-seven percent of teachers in Group 1 were teaching health education in schools. Of the 33 teachers, 15 held bachelor of education degrees in health education, and 18 held bachelor degrees from other health-related disciplines such as nursing, biology, home economics, pharmacy, or physical education.

Group 2 consisted of school health educators from Florida participating in a health education inservice workshop during spring 1988. …

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