Academic journal article Journal of School Health

Effect of Inservice Training on Implementation of a Health Curriculum in Nova Scotia, Canada

Academic journal article Journal of School Health

Effect of Inservice Training on Implementation of a Health Curriculum in Nova Scotia, Canada

Article excerpt

Effect of Inservice Training on Implementation of a Health Curriculum in Nova Scotia, Canada

Implementation, the process of putting a new program into practice, is a phase in the process of educational change that often frustrates educators.[1] Without implementation, the potential impact of a health curriculum on student health knowledge, attitudes, and practices cannot be achieved. And, failure to document implementation may lead to measurement of the effects of a nonexistent program and the inability to describe how outcomes are influenced by a program.[2,3] Outcome and impact evaluations therefore should measure or describe implementation.[1-5]

Research has shown that health instruction affects students' health-related attitudes behavior, that this effect relates strongly to the level of implementation, and that teacher inservice training is related to more complete implementation.[6] The main purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of different types of inservice training on the degree of implementation of a revised fourth grade health curriculum in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Beginning in fall 1989, revised health curriculum guidelines were piloted in fourth grade classrooms in two cities in Nova Scotia. A quasiexperimental research project - the Dartmouth Health Promotion Study (DHPS) - also was underway in the same schools. The DHPS was taking a comprehensive approach to promoting health, the essence of which is to coordinate the health instruction, school health services, and a healthful environment, and to integrate each of these components with family and community efforts. The DHPS was testing the impact of this comprehensive approach on students' heart health and mental health attitudes and practices, on their health status such as anxiety and cardiovascular fitness, and on their academic motivation and achievement.

Participating schools were assigned to three different groups for the study but were expected to deliver the same basic curriculum. However, the situation regarding inservice training differed in each group. Documenting the level of implementation of the curriculum as it relates to inservice training would help to interpret the DHPS impact data.

INSERVICE TRAINING AND IMPLEMENTATION

Because teachers carry out curriculum implementation, they are thought to be the most critical factor in implementing school health programs.[7,8] Evaluations should focus on the teacher's behavior and consequent classroom activities.[9,10] According to Fullan,[1] three criteria influence a teacher's decision to use or not to use an innovation: perceived need for the innovation, procedural clarity, and personal assessment of costs such as time, energy, and learning new skills, and benefits such as increased competence. An overall positive balance must exist between disincentives and incentives in the early stages of implementation, the time when difficulties are most likely encountered. Interaction and the availability of support is most important at this early stage. Teachers need inservice training and the support of regular meetings to discuss and solve problems.[1,11] The crux of the matter seems to be whether or not teachers' concerns are addressed at critical stages of an intervention.[10,12]

Health education literature confirms that inservice training affects the degree of implementation. In the School Health Education Evaluation involving 1,071 fourth-seventh grade classes and four different health curricula, Connell et al[6] reported that the degree to which a curriculum is implemented relates positively to the extent of inservice training. Depending on the program evaluated, full training ranged from a minimum of one hour to 40 hours in duration, but could be more extensive. Partial training was of a briefer duration than the stated minimum. Fully trained teachers in this study taught a greater percentage of the program with greater fidelity or fewer modifications to suggested activities, than did partially trained teachers. …

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