Research Competencies in Health Education

Expected by AAHPERD/AAHE

Excerpts from:

American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. AAHPERD/AAHE Standards for Health Education Programs 2001.

STANDARD I: Candidates assess individual and community needs for health education

Key Element A: Candidates obtain health-related data about social and cultural environments, growth and development factors, needs, and interests of students

Key Element C: Candidates determine health education needs based on observed and obtained data

STANDARD II: Candidates plan effective health education programs

Key Element D: Candidates design educational strategies consistent with specified learner objectives

STANDARD III: Candidates implement health education programs

STANDARD V: Candidates coordinate provision of health education programs and services

Key Element D: Candidates organize professional development programs for teachers, other school personnel, community members, and other interested individuals

STANDARD VI: Candidates act as a resource person in health education

Key Element A: Candidates utilize computerized health information retrieval systems effectively

Key Element C: Candidates interpret and respond to requests for health information

Key Element D: Candidates select effective educational resource materials for dissemination

STANDARD VII: Candidates communicate health and health education needs, concerns, and resources

Key Element B: Candidates predict the impact of societal value systems on health education programs

Key Element C: Candidates select a variety of communication methods and techniques in providing health information

Key Element D: Candidates foster communication between health care providers and consumers

Health Education Knowledge Base and Current Research


STANDARD I: Candidates assess individual and community needs for health education

In needs assessments, health educators gather and analyze information to determine which health education program goals and strategies are appropriate for a specified target population.

Needs assessment is the systematic, planned collection of information about individuals' health-related knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, motivations, skills, and behaviors as well as environmental factors that may impact health.

(4)

Comprehensive School Health Education

School health educators can use findings of national youth surveillance systems and other databases to understand current student needs.

(4)

Ultimately, some local school and community assessments will be essential for development of effective health education curricula. School, community, and public health data and records are important sources of information about local health-related needs. For example, student health and referral records (i.e., school nurse's office visits; absence from school), local hospital emergency room treatment (e.g., acute asthma; drug overdose), and sexually-transmitted disease and pregnancy rates can provide a picture of local health concerns and support the need for expanded school efforts. Finally, school health educators should use both qualitative and quantitative methods to elicit information directly and indirectly from students, parents, teachers, administrators, and other school personnel.

(5)

Collaboration with Health Educators in Other Settings

Health educators in other settings can offer support to school-based needs assessment efforts. For example, community health educators can provide current local, state, and national data about youth, assist in assessment of student and family needs, map existing community health-related programs and services, and assess community support for school health programming. Community health agencies also can partner with schools to enhance health programs at alternative schools and/or determine outreach program needs for youth who have dropped out of school, run away from home, and/or become homeless.

Health educators in medical care settings can provide information about youth problems/issues as presented to health care providers or within hospital emergency rooms. Health educators at post-secondary institutions can work with local schools and their partners to administer the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, conduct student and family needs assessments, summarize and interpret results, and provide recommendations for school health education and CSHPs. Finally, health educators in worksite settings could include discussions about youth issues as part of worksite health promotion programs for working youth, parents/guardians, and other adults.

(5)

Key Element A: Candidates obtain health-related data about social and cultural environments, growth and development factors, needs, and interests of students.

Rubric:

Unacceptable Acceptable Target
Candidates are unable to assess validity and reliability of sources of needs assessment data; fail to use technology-based sources of information; use inappropriate data-gathering instruments and procedures Candidates select valid, reliable, and credible sources of data and information about health needs, interests, and concerns; use technology-based sources of information; identify appropriate data-gathering instruments; apply various methods to collect health-related data and information. Candidates use multiple formats to select valid, reliable, and credible sources of information about health needs, interests, and concerns; design valid and reliable instruments to assess baseline knowledge, attitudes, perceptions, and skills; develop culturally-sensitive plans for effective administration of needs assessment instruments; organize obtained data to facilitate analysis.

Supporting Explanation:

Conducting needs assessments requires that health educators are able to locate relevant existing information and statistics about student health needs; generate additional data, as appropriate; and verify validity, reliability, and credibility of information sources. To ensure a broad understanding of students' developmental and health-related needs, related factors, interests, and concerns, health educators should access multiple sources of secondary data and information, including federal agencies, national organizations, and state/local agencies. These data include those that are routinely gathered as part of national, state, and local surveillance systems or funded research investigations. To gather primary data directly from students, families, teachers, and administrators, health educators first must understand school district protocols for conducting research and, upon approval, can administer surveys, conduct individual and focus group interviews, observe student behavior in classrooms and throughout the school, and/or conduct health risk assessments. A critical step is evaluation of all available data and information to determine if they are relevant and applicable to the local student population, school, and community.

(6)

Key Element C: Candidates determine health education needs based on observed and obtained data.

Rubric:

Unacceptable Acceptable Target
Candidates are unable to gather and summarize needs assessment data; classify needs of school-aged youth; recommend school-based strategies for prevention and early intervention. Candidates review, display, and interpret needs assessment data for diverse student populations; establish criteria for prioritizing areas based on diverse student needs; apply established criteria to identify priority needs for school-based health education and CSHPs. Candidates synthesize multiple sources of qualitative and quantitative needs assessment data; evaluate health-related data to determine priority needs for school-based health education, CSHPs, and supporting community programs and services for diverse student populations; communicate need for coordinated, collaborative school and community efforts.

(8)

Supporting Documentation

Developmentally-appropriate health education needs of school-age youth and their families should not be assumed nor estimated, but must be based upon information obtained through multiple valid, reliable, and credible sources and data collection methods, as feasible. School health educators can obtain existing data about youth risk behaviors as well as predisposing, reinforcing, and enabling factors of health-related behavior in the family, school, and/or community from national, state, and local morbidity and mortality reports, local health department reports, youth risk behavior surveillance systems, and published/unpublished research, to name a few. Additional data can be collected through qualitative and quantitative methods, including individual and focus group interviews, classroom and school observations, written surveys of youth, families, teachers, and/or administrators, health risk appraisals, and other methods. To determine trends and patterns of needs relative to youth and their families, school health educators must be able to tabulate, organize, and summarize needs assessment data. Established criteria used to determine health education and CSHP priorities should be applied to guide program planning.

(8-9)

STANDARD II: Candidates plan effective health education programs.

Comprehensive School Health Education

Adopted health education curricula, whether locally-developed or commercially-published, should be based on district/state frameworks/guidelines and nationally-established criteria, and should reflect student, family, and community needs. In addition, preK-12 curricula should promote health literacy—the capacity to obtain, interpret, and understand basic health information and services and the competence to use information and services in ways that are health-enhancing (Joint Committee on Health Education Standards [JCHES], 1998). Decisions about curriculum content and process (what health-related concepts and skills should be taught at which grade levels) as well as proposed student outcomes (what students will be able to do) should be based on state/national health education standards as well as current research findings (JCHES, 1998).

(9-10)

Collaboration with Health Educators in Other Settings

Health educators and other professionals in community, medical care, university, and worksite settings can support and enhance school health education and CSHP planning efforts in a variety of ways. ... For example, in planning a comprehensive substance use prevention program, research-based classroom instruction could be supported by a variety of after-school youth activities sponsored by local youth serving organizations (e.g., Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA, YWCA).

(10)

Key Element D: Candidates design educational strategies consistent with specified learner objectives.

Rubric

Unacceptable Acceptable Target
Candidates fail to review existing curricula before developing learner objectives; propose instructional strategies unrelated to program objectives or performance indicators; design instructional strategies limited in scope. Candidates access and review existing or new health education curricula for consistency with performance indicators and research-based “best practice;” delineate a wide variety of instructional strategies aligned to meet diverse student needs; plan service learning opportunities that reinforce mastery of previously identified learner objectives. Candidates design new and innovative instructional strategies consistent with “best practice” that support performance indicators and address diverse learning styles; propose multiple strategies within CSHP components to support health instruction.

(14)

STANDARD III: Candidates implement health education programs.

Comprehensive School Health Education

School health educators use the widest range of instructional methods and techniques, most often interactive and experiential in approach. Implementation of theory-driven, research-based curricula should focus on providing functional health information and developing essential skills for adopting, practicing, and maintaining healthy behaviors. (15)

Collaboration with Health Educators in Other Settings

Public health educators can facilitate health-related community awareness campaigns. Health education faculty can assist by summarizing current research related to “best practices” and barriers to implementation of school-based programs.

For example, health education curricula focusing on HIV prevention could be enhanced by incorporating HIV-positive speakers within classroom presentations and identifying available community resources, including HIV testing locations. ... Health educators in university settings (and students enrolled in professional preparation programs) could summarize current research and offer professional development sessions about key elements of effective HIV prevention programs and implementation strategies.

STANDARD V: Candidates coordinate provision of health education programs and services.

Key Element D: Candidates organize professional development programs for teachers, other school personnel, community members, and other interested individuals.

Rubric:

Unacceptable Acceptable Target
Candidates fail to recognize the need for professional development for teachers and other school personnel related to health instruction and CSHPs. Candidates plan competency-based professional development sessions; determine appropriate educational and technological resources and instructional methods to meet diverse needs of teachers and other school personnel. Candidates implement and evaluate professional development sessions related to “best practice” in health education and CSHPs; use current, valid, and reliable resources to identify a wide range of strategies for ongoing professional development and support (e.g., peer coaching, mentoring).

(33)

Supporting Explanation:

Health educators must be able to plan and deliver competency-based professional development programs addressing a wide range of health issues and concerns. In addition to accurate and current functional information, professional development sessions should include modeling of research-driven and skills-based instructional and CSHP strategies.

(34)

STANDARD VI: Candidates act as a resource person in health education.

An important role of health educators is to access and evaluate a wealth of health information, resources, and services. The setting within which health educators function largely determines the nature of the resources that are provided and the functions that will be served. Health educators procure and disseminate educational materials and human resources; evaluate the validity, reliability, and credibility of information and resources; and make referrals to appropriate health-related programs and services.

Comprehensive School Health Education

School health educators are the primary resource for classroom instruction designed to increase functional health knowledge; improve health-enhancing attitudes; develop health-related skills; and motivate students to prevent disease, reduce health risk behaviors, and increase health-promoting behaviors. To accomplish this, health educators must have a broad understanding of how to access up-to-date, reliable, and accurate health-related information. School health educators must be able to identify and recommend theory-driven and research-based instructional strategies to other teachers in the school who have been assigned to teach health education.

(34)

When health educators are knowledgeable about informational, technological, material, and human resources both within the school and the broader community, they are more prepared to enable students and staff members to meet instructional, professional, and personal goals.

(35)

Collaboration with Health Educators in Other Settings

Health educators in community, medical care, and worksite settings are valuable resources for school-based health education efforts. It is not unusual for community health educators to have specific areas of expertise for which they can offer more in-depth knowledge, skills, and health-related services within the parameters of a comprehensive health instructional program as well as a CSHP. They may provide materials and other educational media, topic-related speakers, and greater insight into specific health issues of interest. For example, a community health educator who works with an HIV/AIDS agency would be able to provide in-depth information about the care and services needed by people infected with HIV and speakers who are persons with AIDS. The integration of community health resources within the school health program is an effective use of resources for accessing information; developing skills; assessing needs; and planning, implementing, and evaluating health education programs.

(35)

Key Element A: Candidates utilize computerized health information retrieval systems effectively.

Rubric:

Unacceptable Acceptable Target
Candidates do not demonstrate basic computer skills needed to process and manage information; cannot use information technology to obtain valid and reliable sources of information; are unable to communicate health messages or information to others using the language of computer technology (e.g., graphic images); are unfamiliar with other technology communication systems and resources utilized to enhance health; are unaware of technology resources available to support teachers and student instructional goals related to health education. Candidates use basic communication technologies/ applications (e.g., electronic mail, data processing, graphics programs, word processing); use the Internet to access health research database and surveillance systems and interact with web-based programs; identify on-line learning activities and resources aligned with health instructional goals and meaningful to students; use a variety of communication and technology systems that provide health information (e.g., compact discs, DVD players, videotape and audio tape, teleconferences/ videoconferences); evaluate computerized health information for validity, reliability, credibility, and accuracy. Candidates create a variety of on-line health-related resources and communication technologies; construct an electronic catalog, database, or graphic organizer to display and link retrieved health information; create computer-based multimedia presentations to disseminate health information; assess various resources and communication technologies for use in designing learning activities that engage diverse students in developmentally-appropriate, meaningful health-promoting experiences; convert analog resources to digital media.

(36)

Supporting Explanation:

Technological literacy, that is, the ability to use, manage, develop, and assess information and communication technologies is essential to successfully navigate life and optimize learning in the 21st century. School health educators must possess the technology skills that promote teaching and learning in an information rich society. Skills of using computers and information technologies are essential for teachers and students alike to make sense of and use the rapidly evolving body of health information, resources, and services. Electronic tools, such as graphic organizers, are powerful strategies for organizing thinking that can quickly help to arrange and connect data and provide a visual presentation of complex ideas or information. Sources of data provide the ability to sort, sift, compare, and find information rapidly. Computer-based multimedia allows for effective and persuasive visual presentation of select ideas, arguments, or perspectives.

(36)

Key Element C: Candidates interpret and respond to requests for health information.

Rubric:

Unacceptable Acceptable Target
Candidates are unaware of national, state, or local research, recommendations, or laws relative to health of school aged youth; cannot identify trends in child and adolescent health risks or relate these to influences on learning, development of school policy, and design of health curricula and pedagogy; cannot identify resources for students in need. Candidates use data from national, state, and local child and adolescent health research to respond to requests for information about health issues, school policy development, and adoption of health curricula; help all students locate current, reliable, and credible sources of information; identify health and safety youth-serving organizations, agencies, and associations. Candidates synthesize research relative to health risks among diverse school-age youth and devise multiple modalities for communicating the requested information; use research data, laws, and professional recommendations as resources and evidence to advocate for youth; contact youth-serving organizations, agencies, and associations for information concerning health and safety.

(38)

Supporting Explanation:

Practitioners, consistently provided with new research about health issues, are challenged to stay current with the latest health-related information, programs, and services. To effectively respond to requests from multiple groups, health educators must develop skills that enable them to access, interpret, and evaluate the latest findings for validity, reliability, and accuracy. They also must translate the latest research into recommendations for the design and implementation of health education programs. Health educators must be able to locate and access professionals as well as community agencies and organizations that can serve as resources for specific health information.

(38)

Key Element D: Candidates select effective educational resource materials for dissemination.

Rubric:

Unacceptable Acceptable Target
Candidates cannot evaluate health information materials for accuracy or validity; cannot determine the credibility of community agency/organization resources and services; do not recognize and/or use health resources provided by professional agencies and associations. Candidates select, assemble, and distribute valid and reliable health information related to diverse school-aged youth; formulate criteria for selection of instructional materials. Candidates are aware of national, state, and local organizations/associations that support youth health initiatives and use publications disseminated by them; based on criteria for effectiveness, select appropriate health and safety materials from professional organizations, agencies, and associations for educational programming; create and disseminate accurate and valid health materials for diverse audiences.

(39)

Supporting Explanation:

Materials serve as educational tools for the dissemination of health information and the development of functional health knowledge and related skills. Health educators must be able to identify professional agencies and associations that develop and disseminate health information materials as well as access, evaluate, and assemble valid and reliable materials for appropriate use based on learners’ developmental levels and abilities. Criteria for effective instructional materials should include content accuracy, developmental-appropriateness, cultural sensitivity currency, provisions for multiple perspectives and individual differences, and parent/community involvement. Health educators also must be able to create their own materials for students, parents, other school staff, and community members as well as identify different strategies for distribution of these materials to selected audiences.

(39)

STANDARD VII: Candidates communicate health and health education needs, concerns, and resources.

Health educators must provide information about health and health education needs, concerns, and resources to a varied market of learners, consumers, employers, colleagues, and health providers.

By interpreting health information, needs, concerns, and issues, health educators put into practice their ability to clearly articulate the purposes, theories, concepts, and processes of health education to others in a manner appropriate for the setting in which they practice.

(40)

Comprehensive School Health Education

In addition to communicating health concepts and skills during classroom instruction, health educators in school settings may be asked to present an overview of the health education curriculum, Youth Risk Behavior Survey results, and/or information about current health issues to other school staff; parents/guardians; health advisory boards; district-level administrators and staff; school board members; community groups; and state, regional, and national professional associations.

(40)

Collaboration with Health Educators in Other Settings

Health educators working in community and medical care settings can present local morbidity and mortality data collected by public health and other agencies (STD rates, pregnancy rates, AIDS cases, suicide rates); summaries of emergency room visits (e.g., acute asthma attacks, drug-related incidents, unintentional injuries, suicide attempts, gang-related injuries); and other local health-related data. These data can be used to provide a profile of youth health-related issues and concerns, support health education and CSHP policy development, and substantiate the need for a planned, sequential health education curriculum at all grade levels. Health educators in university settings can review and synthesize current prevention research to identify “best practices” in health education; provide expertise related to administration and analysis of Youth Risk Behavior Survey results; and assist in development and delivery of presentations to appropriate groups within schools and the broader community.

(41)

Key Element B: Candidates predict the impact of societal value systems on health education programs.

Supporting Explanation:

Controversy often arises when there are opposing viewpoints related to health education practice (e.g., content of sexuality education program; condom availability program) and/or policy (e.g., zero tolerance policy for drugs in school, including over-the-counter medications). In some cases, personal viewpoints may be based on lack of information, misinformation, biased beliefs/perceptions, and popular practice rather than sound scientific evidence and accurate, reliable, and credible information.

(43)

Key Element C: Candidates select a variety of communication methods and techniques in providing health information.

Rubric:

Unacceptable Acceptable Target
Candidates have limited verbal and written communication skills; cannot identify ways to convey health information, develop ineffective communication campaigns related to current health issues; lack skills to facilitate group discussions. Candidates deliver health-promoting messages clearly and concisely; identify a range of strategies for communicating health information to individuals, small groups, and large groups; facilitate small and large group discussions by modeling appropriate dispositions and skills. Candidates use multiple strategies to communicate health information to diverse consumers; effectively use multiple channels (e.g., oral written, graphic, electronic) to deliver health-promoting messages; apply social marketing principles to develop effective public service announcements and other health communications.

(44)

Key Element D: Candidates foster communication between health care providers and consumers.

Rubric:

Unacceptable Acceptable Target
Candidates cannot delineate factors affecting processing of health information; are unable to express scientific concepts in terms understandable by consumers. Candidates identify factors influencing students’ and parents’ understanding of health information and acceptance of health services; translate scientific concepts for understanding by students, parents, and staff; act as a liaison between health care providers and diverse students, parents, and staff. Candidates discuss the inter-relatedness of personal, family, community, and societal factors on access to health information; apply communication and marketing theory to advocate for health, health education, and/or CSHPs.

(45)

Supporting Explanation:

School health educators also can enhance communication among students, their families, and health care providers/organizations. Some ways to facilitate consumer understanding and satisfaction include: translating complicated medical and research studies into understandable health concepts; writing health-related articles in popular press; co-sponsoring panel discussions among health care providers about specific health concerns; developing and distributing newsletters/flyers addressing health issues and incorporating contact information about available health care providers; developing public services announcements; and making appearances on television and radio programs.

(45-46)

Health Education Knowledge Base and Current Research

Health education student standard

The National Health Education Standards (NHES) are student-based outcomes that describe the functional knowledge and skills students need to develop into health-literate individuals (Joint Committee on National Health Education Standards, 1998). These standards also support four characteristics or educational outcomes that describe a health-literate person: (a) critical thinking and problem solving, (b) acting as a responsible citizen, (c) engaging in self-directed learning, and (d) communicating effectively. According to the NHES (1998, p. 6-7):

  • Health literate individuals are critical thinkers and problem solvers who identify and creatively address health problems and issues at multiple levels, ranging from personal to international. They utilize a variety of sources to access the current, credible and applicable information required to make sound health-related decisions.
  • Health-literate individuals are self-directed learners who have a command of the dynamic health promotion and disease prevention knowledge base. They use literacy, numerical skills, and critical thinking skills to gather, analyze, and apply health information as their needs and priorities change throughout life.
  • Health literate individuals are effective communicators who organize and convey beliefs, ideas, and information about health through oral, written, artistic, graphic, and technologic mediums {sic}.
(48-49)


Last modified February 15, 2007
by Boris Teske, Prescott Memorial Library,
Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA 71272