Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Resuscitating School Health-Education Teacher Preparation

Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Resuscitating School Health-Education Teacher Preparation

Article excerpt

The need for effective school-health educators is increasing, even as school-health education preparation programs are on the decline. Teacher-preparation personnel face the challenges of university isolation, shortage of professors, and the need to shift from content to skill development. The authors describe a new university curriculum model in health-education teacher preparation that is focused on the six dimensions of health and that can be cost efficient for universities to implement, can improve teacher candidates' learning strategies, and can correlate to effective health-education instruction in the public school setting.


Effective school-health educators are needed to prevent adolescent risk behaviors that contribute to diseases and death. Meanwhile, health-education teacher-preparation programs have been on the decline, with universities downsizing or eliminating these academic programs (O'Rourke, 2005). Therefore, health educators face challenges in teacher preparation and delivery of quality education.

Some challenges include isolation of universities from the issues within the K-12 schools and a shortage of professors entering the field of health-education teacher education (HETE) or school-health education (SHE). HETE and SHE are one and the same, although title preferences are found in différent geographical areas. These challenges point to the need for a positive alternative in health-teacher preparation that shifts from covering just content to skill development, moves from test measures to performance assessments, and prepares health educators at the elementary level (Smith, Potts-Datema, & Nolte, 2005). Birch, Duplaga, Seabert, and Wilbur (2001) noted that teacher preparation will not improve without the interaction of university faculty and K-12 teachers.

Numerous reasons explain the decline in undergraduate and graduate preparation programs in SHE in the last 10 years:

1. Faculty who specialized in school-health preparation have retired.

2. Few school-health-prepared doctoral students are available to fill faculty attrition through retirements or openings created when school-health faculty move to a different institution. Even rarer is the newly created faculty position that focuses on SHE. Educators in the field hear stories of departments losing faculty positions completely when no one was hired to fill the opening or no applications were received for their school-health faculty openings.

3. Public-health preparation programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels have, in many instances, taken over the departments where SHE programs were previously housed.

4. SHE preparation has been weakened by over-reliance on public- and communityhealth education faculty for the delivery of course work - even though these faculty have never been in a high-school health education classroom to gain an understanding of what SHE encompasses.

5. Universities rely on community- and public-health course work to fulfill accreditation standards for their teacher-preparation programs, and the course work is not connected to the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) standards.

6. Unqualified high-school health-education classroom teachers may have tried to do too much with guest speakers because they were not prepared to teach the material themselves. Some teachers bring a revolving door of guest speakers into their classrooms in order to meet their states curriculum standards.

7. Public health is viewed as more glamorous and, with the increased availability of research monies for public health, more public-health schools, departments, and curricula have been and are being developed by universities.

Looking at a New Model

Many of todays traditional college-preparation courses in HETE continue as individual-content or silo courses on a single topic with content spread out over 15 weeks and with much of the content not being as useful or applicable to future school-health teachers once they begin their classroom teaching careers. …

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