Academic journal article Journal of School Health

Development and Dissemination of a Manual to Promote Teacher Preservice in Health Education

Academic journal article Journal of School Health

Development and Dissemination of a Manual to Promote Teacher Preservice in Health Education

Article excerpt

Comprehensive school health education (CSHE) represents an important means of preventing behavioral causes of major health problems among youth.[1] One of the eight goals in the National Education Goals 2000: Educate America Act directly addresses the health status of children, thus emphasizing the role of school health.[2] While implementation of CSHE is influenced by numerous individual, organizational, and political factors, lack of teacher training constitutes a major obstacle to effective implementation.[3] For example. when chief state school officers were asked to rank barriers to implementing CSHE, administrative commitment and lack of adequately prepared teachers ranked as the top two barriers.[4]

While many states have legislation supporting CSHE in the K-12 classroom,[5] teacher preparation has not been equally supported. Nationally, only 18 states have an academic requirement for the initial teaching credential that includes health education.[6] Adequate teacher preparation, at both the preservice and inservice levels, will contribute to effective implementation of health education at the classroom level.

Currently, a lack of information exists related to preservice education for teachers not specializing in health education. An analysis of articles mentioning teacher education in two major health education journals revealed that curricular content was addressed in 70% of the articles reviewed. However, a disparity in the number of articles that addressed content in preservice education for non-specialist teachers versus specialist teachers was noted, with the overwhelming emphasis being on specialist teachers.[7] Because much of health instruction in schools is conducted by teachers with little or no formal preparation in health instruction, the authors conclude that lack of preparation is a major concern for the health education discipline.

To fully address health problems facing the nation's youth, health education must be provided for all teachers, regardless of their subject area expertise.[5,8] A first step in meeting this need is to provide curriculum materials to college faculty responsible for teacher preparation. This article reports results from a collaborative effort between a university project funded by the Division of Adolescent and School Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the California Dept. of Education. The project provided teacher educators throughout the state with materials to support enhancement of the health education course required for teacher certification taught at their institution. This paper describes development and dissemination of curriculum materials to teacher educators. Survey data are reported that address whether or not these materials, developed by health education experts, were used by instructors and, if so, whether use can be predicted by attendance at a dissemination workshop and characteristics of the instructor, such as background, department, and experience with the course.


California candidate teachers must complete a one-unit (minimum) course requirement in health education which includes training in nutrition education; effects of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco; and CPR. While California is one of the few states to have a credentialing requirement that includes health education, curriculum guidelines have not been available previously. In 1992, the state Dept. of Education, Healthy Kids Healthy California, funded Project TEACH (Teacher Education to Achieve Comprehensive Health) to address this need. The project's long-term goal is to increase the quality of the required preservice health education course throughout the state's 76 teacher preparation institutions. The project was supported by the Dept. of Education with funds allocated from the federal Drug-Free Schools and Community Act of 1986, the California Tobacco Surtax Initiative (Proposition 99), the Nutrition Education Unit, as well as California College Health 2000, a project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to improve preservice teacher education in HIV/AIDS. …

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