Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

Evaluation of a Health and Fitness Social Media Experience

Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

Evaluation of a Health and Fitness Social Media Experience

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Background: University health and fitness faculty members are continually striving to enhance the health knowledge of their students. Purpose: The purpose of this case study was to survey student reflections of a social media experience. Methods: Students were placed into one of two groups: Learners (N = 92) or Pre- Service Health and Fitness Professionals (N = 35). The interaction with social media began when Learners posted health and fitness questions to a Facebook group site. Survey questionnaires were given to all participants. Results: The responses of the Learner group revealed that 51.1% believed long-term use of a social media site benefit their fitness routine. A supporting Learner response, "I feel more informed and aware of proper fitness." The responses of the Pre-Service Health and Fitness Professionals group revealed that 52.9% learned from peers. A supporting PSHFP response, "I learned that some of my peers are quick to establish more ways to improve a workout ..." Discussion: Both Learners and Pre-Service Health and Fitness Professionals groups gave new insights into health and fitness needs. Translation to Health Education Practice: The University is an ideal setting to share health and fitness knowledge through social media.

BACKGROUND

Health and fitness faculty members are continually striving to enhance the health knowledge of their students. Consistent with the tenants of the Institute of Medicine, coursework should be geared toward helping students make informed decisions about health and fitness. (1) From this view, the curriculum should broaden students' understanding of basic health information through a variety of learning modalities.

In this digital age of increasing access to information, communication and resources, university instructors are continually encouraged to apply technology to enhance classroom experiences. (2,3) The use of technology for increasing educational opportunities can be thought to occur in two ways. The first category of using technology in the classroom is related to those advances, which increase the communication and the dissemination of course content. Examples of this use of technology include the use of course management sites such as BlackBoard, e-mail and PowerPoint[R] presentations. The second category of utilizing technology for educational enhancement are those occurrences that create novel interactions and experiences. (4) Examples of this use of technology could include a low cost way to simulate real world situations, creative use of multimedia, or unique social interactions. For most, the use of technology in the classroom has dramatically improved opportunities for learning. Perhaps due to its ease of use, technology defined in the first category, increases the speed of communication and dissemination of course content that has become common practice for the contemporary instructor. However, the use of technology to create novel interactions and novel learning situations is a less common practice. One potential reason for the under utilization of educational events related to this second category of technology may be due to concern that such activities lack sound pedagogical outcomes.

Learning activities are most effective when they are based on a proven learning theory. Thus, the application of technology for education best occurs when specific learning outcomes are directed through theory. One theory that could be used to guide the unique interactive opportunities afforded by technological is Brunner's "Folk Pedagogy." (4) He contends that education should be the process of fitting the learners' "ways of knowing" to meet the needs of the culture. (4(p.43)) Further, the harnessing of this "way of knowing" can be used to facilitate the understanding of course content by the learner. Applying his insights is to recognize that the modern day students' "ways of learning" about the world centers largely on social networking. …

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