Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

The Impact of a Health Methods Class on Pre-Service Teachers' Self-Efficacy and Intent to Teach Health

Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

The Impact of a Health Methods Class on Pre-Service Teachers' Self-Efficacy and Intent to Teach Health

Article excerpt

Background: Elementary schoolteachers are an important vehicle for teaching students health skills that will carry them through life and reduce their future risk of disease linked to health behaviors. Purpose: To determine whether university classroom instruction resulted in increased self-efficacy and intent to teach a skill-based health curriculum for elementary pre-service teachers seeking certification. Methods: A quasi-experimental design examined pre-service teachers' self-efficacy, outcome expectations, outcome value, and intent to teach health skills and content in pre-service teachers seeking certification who participated in a teaching methods class compared to controls who did not. Results: A significant interaction between groups over time was found for self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and intent to teach. Furthermore, pre-service teachers exposed to the course were more likely to express an intent to teach skill-based health education and outcome values were higher post-intervention.

Discussion: A skill-based health methods class increases pre-service teachers' self-efficacy and desire to teach skill-based health education. Translation to Health Education Practice:

The importance of health issues in the elementary school, coupled with the fact that most elementary health education is taught by classroom teachers and that sell-efficacy is linked to teacher effectiveness, implies that well-designed curricula are imperative for future elementary schoolteachers.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified 6 behaviors that contribute to morbidity and mortality of both young people and adults. These include behaviors that contribute to intentional and unintentional injuries, tobacco use, drug and alcohol use, sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and STDs, unhealthy dietary behaviors, and lack of activity. (1) Many of these negative behaviors begin early in life and continue into adulthood, with eventual grave consequences. As a result, instituting patterns of healthy behavior while children are still young is a logical strategy toward healthy adult futures.

More than 55 million children attend private and public schools each day in the United States, and these schools provide a potentially effective and efficient vehicle to deliver quality instruction geared toward adopting healthy behaviors. (2,3) School health programs can increase health knowledge and create a supportive environment to practice healthy behaviors that ultimately may result in students making healthy lifestyle choices. The impact of health education on the choices that students make has been documented extensively. Effective school health education has been shown to be a useful vehicle for improving multiple health behaviors of children, including nutrition, (2,4) eating behaviors, (5,6) and tobacco prevention, (7) to name a few.

Though an effective school health curriculum is one method to address health behavior patterns among youth, one of the common barriers to effective instruction is lack of proper training for teachers, particularly at the elementary level. Increasingly, states are requiring health education at the elementary level; however, elementary health education is most often taught by teachers who are not certified in health education or by teachers who have neither undergraduate majors nor minors in health education. (8) Improving the pre-service preparation of elementary schoolteachers, particularly with regard to training in skill-based health education, would effectively increase our nation's arsenal in preventing morbidity and mortality.

There are 2 theories useful for examining teachers' preparation to teach effective health education. Albert Bandura's social cognitive theory (SCT) aids in understanding the factors that affect classroom teachers' ability and efficacy to teach health education. This theory provides a structure that focuses on reciprocal determinism; that is, the interaction between individuals and their environment. …

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