A Review of Health Education in NYS and Beyond

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Challenges facing health educators, strategies and the support HELO can offer

Challenges: * Professional development and support

  • Pedagogical challenges
  • Lack of research resource in supporting health instruction
  • School support and community support
  • Adaptation to the integration of technology in classroom
  • Community/social connection and engagement
  • Policy environment
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· Elementary school, middle and high school health teachers’ lack of professional preparation in health education;(Fetro, 2010; McDermott, 2011; McCaughtry, 2011; Deal, Jenkins, Deal & Byra, 2010)

“Elementary classroom teachers must overcome a number of instructional barriers, including time constraints and professional preparation, if they are to deliver effective health education and enhance health literacy among youth.” (Deal, Jenkins, Deal & Byra, 2010, p155)

“Only 13% of elementary teachers and 37% of middle and high school teachers had any professional preparation in health education.”(Fetro, 2010, p261) Efforts need to be made on expanding professional preparation in health education, to “ensure that those individuals teaching health education majors are up-to-date with ‘best practice’ and are knowledgeable about resources at the national level.” (p263)

“Nearly no universities give any pedagogical training to elementary teachers bin the delivery of health education.” (McDermott, 2011, p339)

“[Health] teachers often have little if any pre-service training in teaching nutrition, lack updated resources and are given woefully little professional development to update their nutrition education skills.” (McCaughtry, 2011, p283)

“Inadequate pre-service coursework and in-service training opportunities in health education are additional barriers that contribute to the lack of implementation of health instruction in the elementary classroom.” Deal, Jenkins, Deal & Byra, 2010, p156)

· Weak specialized preparation of teachers with a combined major in health and physical education; (McDermott, 2011; McCaughtry, 2011; Deal & Hodges)

“University and college teacher preparation programs have been criticized for the apparent disconnect between coursework an practical applications.” (Deal & Hodges , p3)

· Ineffective teaching methodology; (Lohrmann, 2011; McCaughtry, 2011; Hochbaum, 2010;)

“In short, we give him (student) additional health knowledge, but may fail to help him make sound and consistent choices in his health behavior.” (Hochbaum, 2010, p131)

“I am also sure that the teacher cannot do it (health education) by himself. He must actively involve children themselves in the process. Discussions among them, skillfully guided by the teacher, are probably more effective than any lecturing and reading.” (Hochbaum, 2010, p131)

· Lack of a health education professional community in which health educators support themselves and share their voice; (Lohrmann, 2011, McCaughtry, 2011; Steele, 2011)

Health educators also want to realize that they are not alone and they should not just think of working on their own. They have to learn to collaborate and share. (Lohrmann, 2011)

“The [health education] profession needs to be of one voice and advocate as one for K-12 health education.” (McCaughtry, 2011, p348)

“…school health education (and health education in general) must find ways of providing an integrated view of health and health behavior and unifying principles and purposes.” (Hochbaum, 2010, p131)

“Collaboration with parents, teachers and staff in the school, and other related professionals in the community is another way to emphasize fitness for students. If the United States is to improve in the health and fitness levels for individual and public health perspectives, it is important for all the related specialists to work together.” (Steele, 2011, p74)

· Inadequate classroom facilities and lack of high quality instructional materials; (McCaughtry, 2011; McDermott, 2011; Steele, 2011)

“High school teachers can collaborate with librarians to ensure that books and magazines that relate to fitness are available and perhaps on display.” (Steele, 2011, p74)

· Health education in schools does not get equal attention and recognition for its importance as other subjects such as math and language arts do; (Lohrmann, 2011, McCaughtry, 2011; Deal, Jenkins, Deal & Byra, 2010; Inman, van Bakergem, etal, 2011)

“To this day, health education and physical education are the only areas that are not named as school subjects by the U.S. Department of Education and do not receive financial support for developing and refining their standards.” (Lohrmann, 2011, p260)

“A recent study noted that limited exercise in school-aged children is associated with poorer performance on standardized test scores…Despite the importance of obesity prevention, there is currently a lack of evidence-based programs available for implementation.” (Inman, van Bakergem, etal, 2011, p214)

“Supporting emotional health for children is critical in promoting academic and lifetime success.” (Inman, van Bakergem, etal, 2011, p210)

· Most current health teachers are not good at implementing digital resources into their health teaching; (Fetro, 2010; Lohrmann, 2011)

· Lack of support from school administration levels (Valois, Zullig, Young & Kammermann, 2010; Inman, van Bakergem, etal, 2011)

“We have made progress in developing the concept of coordinated school health promotion, but few schools or school districts have sustained large-scale effort.” (Valois, Zullig, Young & Kammermann, 2010, p136)

“Collaboration between health professionals and schools is an important element for improving school-based health programs.” (Inman, van Bakergem, etal, 2011, p209)

· Updated, high, multi-dimensional expectations of health literacy and education; (Fetro, 2010; Lohrmann, 2011; McDermott, 2011)

“To help children and youth become health literate through participation in cutting-edge, high-quality, fulfilling and rewarding health education provided in ways that are consistent with how they play, learn and work.” (Lohrmann, 2011, p268)

“Future health education professionals need to be well prepared and actively practice dynamic leadership in articulating what they are teaching and why they are teaching it.” (McDermott, 2011,p343)

· Limited teaching time, and competition with other school subjects; (Fetro, 2010; McDermott, 2011; Lohrmann, 2011; Deal, Jenkins, Deal & Byra, 2010)

“Whereas the hours devoted to each health topics are reported per year, the typical elementary school includes two hours of language arts, one hour of math, one-half hour of social studies and one-half hour of science instruction every day.” (Lohrmann, 2011, p260-261)

“At the elementary level, most states (70.6%) reported they have adopted goals, objectives or expected outcomes for school health education, but only 19.6% had enacted specific time requirements for health instruction. Without such a mandate, the elementary curriculum may be narrowed to align with subjects that are included in high stakes testing. ” (Deal, Jenkins, Deal & Byra, 2010, p155-156)

· Health teachers (digital immigrants) lacks understanding of the learning needs of new generation of students who are digital native; (outstanding new learning needs: media literacy) (Fetro, 2010; Lohrmann, 2011)

Health educators have to adapt their teaching strategies for delivering health-promoting messages in this digital world. (Fetro, 2010)

· Needs to learn new pedagogy (constructivist) and apply to classroom teaching; (Lohrmann, 2011; McCaughtry, 2011)

· Parental and community opposition to controversial health areas, lack of family support to reinforce good health habits;

· Student disinterests. (Fetro, 2010; McDermott, 2011; Valois, Zullig, Young & Kammermann, 2010)

“Do health educators truly understand the national health education standards and know how our current educational strategies need to change so that youth with diverse learning styles and multiple intelligences can become health literate?” (Fetro, 2010, p259)

“In turn, students in school often find health education meaningless and abstract.” (Valois, Zullig, Young & Kammermann, 2010, p135)