Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

Educator Preparedness to Teach Health Education in British Columbia

Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

Educator Preparedness to Teach Health Education in British Columbia

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Background: To date, few studies have been conducted to investigate the preparedness of health educators in Canadian school systems. Purpose: This study assessed practicing and preservice teachers' self-perceptions of preparedness to teach health education in British Columbia K-12 classrooms. It also investigated factors related to their preparedness. Methods: In 2006, 166 practicing teachers and 78 preservice teachers participated in a self-designed questionnaire. Results: Significant positive relationships were found between preservice teachers' knowledge, skill, preparedness, beliefs toward health education, and satisfaction with the provincial health curricula in assisting them to teach health education. Practicing teachers with more experiences in health education reported higher levels of knowledge, skill, and preparedness, as well as more positive beliefs toward health education, but their satisfaction with the curriculum was negatively associated with those variables. They also reported higher levels of skill and satisfaction and more positive beliefs than the preservice group. Discussion: In light of these results, further explorations are needed to understand current contexts within Canadian school health education. Translation to Health Education Practice: Findings support the need for training and implementation of health-related programs into the education system, particularly the deliberation on how to transform curricula into a more supportive vehicle for health education programming.

BACKGROUND

Research indicates that effective, standards-based health education teachers are necessary in order to influence students' health knowledge, skills, and behaviors. (1,2) University programs must prepare health-literate teachers who have the capacity to access, understand, and analyze functional health information and services, as well as the competence to apply such information and services in ways that enable K-12 students to learn health concepts and skills. (3) Currently, no standardized guidelines exist across Canada, or within British Columbia (B.C.), that require practicing teachers to receive mandatory training in health education. Consequently, teachers have received limited coursework and training in this subject area. According to the B.C. Ministry of Education, (4) by adopting a health-promoting schools approach, and by striving to provide effective teaching and learning to achieve the knowledge, skills, and community partnerships that contribute to wellness, the B.C. school system has the opportunity to enhance the health and learning of all British Columbians. The purpose of this study was to examine the self-perceptions of how well prepared practicing and preservice teachers feel they are to teach health education within B.C's current K-12 school system. The study also aimed to identify factors associated with the self-reported levels of preparedness.

National Recognition of School Health Education in Canada and British Columbia

It has long been recognized that there is a link between health and learning. (5-7) Concern about the current relationship between health and educational achievement of our youths has produced a considerable interest in comprehensive and coordinated school health education initiatives relative to the needs of Canada's multicultural youths. More than 30 Canadian organizations have endorsed a consensus statement on Comprehensive School Health (CSH) and the need for an integrated school-based approach, which incorporates instruction, services, social support, and environment as health-promoting strategies. (8) As a federal commitment to Canadians, the government has affirmed that improving the health of our nation necessitates the identification of health priority areas, (9) and the B.C. government is committed to enhancing the health and education outcomes of all B.C. children and youths, all toward the goal of significantly improving the health of its citizens by 2010. …

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