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School Health Educational Media


Media in learning consists of environment educational formats and tools that appeal to the learner through the senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Multiple media formats provide opportunities to enrich health topics in the classroom by providing more than one view of an issue, and by encouraging thinking. To be effective, such formats must be aligned with focused educational objectives. Health education is one important component of the comprehensive school health program that includes the development, delivery, and evaluation of a planned instructional program and related activities for students preschool through 12th grade. Both parents and school staff should have a role in such a program. Media formats contribute to the understanding and development of health knowledge, attitudes, and skills. Media aligned with school health education supports several dimensions of education, including curricula, school environment, health-related services, and community-based interactions.

School-based curricula are supported by a variety of media venues, including audio, visual, and electronic formats. They are selected based upon specific objectives relating to knowledge gain, attitude change, and behavior change. As an example, a video that depicts factual information about an infectious disease like chlamydia may work well if the objective is to impart knowledge. However, when the objective is to change attitudes, a medium may be selected which impacts on a person's perceived susceptibility to acquiring chlamydia (e.g., an audiotape or video which features interviews with infected peers).

In addition to addressing established objectives, media selections are also based upon audience age level, cultural sensitivity, accuracy of the information, duration of the media format, and cost. Personal computer (PC) technology is a medium that not only supports in-class activities, but can also assist in facilitating homework and project development. Some instructors use e-mail technology to interact with their students, possibly posing a hypothetical problem that needs resolution. Using this approach, a dialogue may be established between the instructor and the students while they are in a real world setting (e.g., home, community, school).

Media formats can also enhance healthful school environments and services. Developing an environment of support can be important in both the social and psychological dimensions, as well as in the physical school setting itself. Various colors, placement of artwork, pleasant sounds, and offering a safe environment for learning all can contribute to the development of a positive, supportive, and learning-conducive environment. Timely and well-placed print and electronic announcements regarding available health services provided by the school or outside agencies can generate a sense of caring. Such approaches also engender a sense that the school is a valued community resource.

Community-based interactions can be enhanced through a careful selection of media formats. A typical objective is to convey information to key community members (parents, agency representatives, government officials) about a major school-related issue. This may be achieved through printed reports that summarize and highlight school-based survey data, accomplishments in accordance with state, regional, or national standards, or other important information. Curricular revisions are often presented in printed and audiovisual formats. When requested revisions are presented in a clear and timely manner it can provide a sense of an orderly and consistent approach to change. It also enables community members to receive the information in advance of public hearings or discussions. Complementing the printed material, audiovisual formats can help clarify important health-related issues and trends in the school and community. Audiovisual formats can be enhanced using computer-based media, which can provide clear overviews and examples, incorporating static or movement-related visuals.

School health education plays a vital role, not just in education, but in improving public health throughout the community and the nation. Major negative issues such as violence, injury, and abuse; as well as important positive aspects of both the school and community settings such as asset development, wellness enhancement, and achievement recognition, can be reviewed and addressed more completely and systematically through the selection of appropriate media formats.

Gary D. Gilmore

(see also: Communication for Health; Communication Theory; School Health )


Cortese, P., and Middleton, K. (1994). The Comprehensive School Health Challenge. Santa Cruz, CA: ETR Associates.

Gilbert, G., and Sawyer, R. (1995). Health Education: Creating Strategies for School and Community Health. Boston: Jones and Bartlett.

Joint Committee on Health Education Terminology (1990). "Report of the 1990 Joint Committee on Health Education Terminology." Journal of Health Education 22(2):97108.

Meeks, L.; Heit, P; and Page, R. (1996). Comprehensive School Health Education. Blacklick, OH: Meeks Heit.

Read, D., and Greene, W. (1989). Creative Teaching in Health. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.

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