Skills Based Health Education & Bloom’s Taxonomy

I still need to write my final SHAPE Boston reflection, but I remembered something that came up in our presentation and wanted to share it. Implementing a skills based curriculum and following a set of steps to teach the skills in health education involves higher order thinking. It’s important for health educators to be able to articulate this using eduspeak that administrators or their evaluators, many of whom are unfamiliar with health education, will understand.

One characteristic of an effective health education curriculum, as defined by the CDC, is the following: 

An effective curriculum builds essential skills — including communication, refusal, assessing accuracy of information, decision-making, planning and goal-setting, self-control, and self-management — that enable students to build their personal confidence, deal with social pressures, and avoid or reduce risk behaviors.

For each skill, students are guided through a series of developmental steps:

    1. Discussing the importance of the skill, its relevance, and relationship to other learned skills.
    2. Presenting steps for developing the skill.
    3. Modeling the skill.
    4. Practicing and rehearsing the skill using real–life scenarios.
    5. Providing feedback and reinforcement.

These developmental steps directly mirror action verbs from Bloom’s Taxonomy. All educators are aware of Bloom’s; it’s a commonality shared among all subject areas, including health education.

The screenshot below indicates which portions of the NHES Skills Sequence are included in an example skills-based unit, as well as where each lesson (the “#” column) falls under Bloom’s Taxonomy. The number of lessons may differ based on your own schedule, so if you were to make this chart it may look a little different. Action verbs, based on what students will be doing during the lesson, are also included. Feel free to use this image in your own evaluation binders, blogs, or presentations to school committees. For my Massachusetts folks: Standard 1-A-1 on the teacher evaluation rubric.

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The progression from general information to specific information, and from simple to complex on Bloom’s Taxonomy, demonstrates a progression of learning experiences that allow students to, “acquire complex knowledge and skills.”

Most educators are familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy, and administrators would certainly be looking for students to demonstrate higher level thinking during class. This chart can be used to justify the shift towards a skills based health curriculum, or as evidence of the higher level thinking that takes place during the teaching of skills and performance indicators from the National Health Education Standards. Health education IS academic, even when the focus is on teaching skills over content.

Now, about that grading…