Summary of the Teaching Plan
The teaching plan involved a primary prevention health promotion on a group of high school students. To conduct the exercise, I had to make a formal presentation on sexually transmitted diseases and outline their impacts on the lives of high school students. Some of the guiding principles in regards to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) include the fact that approximately 46% of high students are engaging in sexual intercourse and about 30% of them neglect to use a condom (Sales & DiClemente, 2010). The main purpose of the teaching experience was to ensure that the teaching plan impacted the necessary knowledge on the students with the view of minimizing risky sexual behavior. The teaching plan put into consideration the students’ readiness for learning as well as the most impactful learning theory (theory of child development).
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It is also important to note that the teaching plan was heavily aligned with “The Healthy People 2020” initiative and its constituent goals. The core of the STD-based presentation involved assisting the intended audience to develop behavioral objectives (including domains), content, and strategies for minimizing risky sexual behavior. Creativity was also a major component of the teaching plan because it is not easy to capture the attention of teenagers, who make up the majority of the intended audience (Wachtel, 2011). For instance, the plan involved the use of visual effects, role-play, videos, and games. In order to ensure that the plan was impactful, the evaluation involved the use of questionnaires, open dialogue, and practical tests on the competency of condom usage. Furthermore, the plan encompasses the evaluation of the teacher. In the course of the teaching plan, it was expected that some students would have feelings of embarrassment, mock the process, or suffer from language barriers. However, the teaching plan had solid remedies to all these barriers. Overall, the plan had covered almost all aspects of sex education.
Epidemiological Rationale for Topic
In epidemiological terms, STDs encompass a host of twenty-five infectious organisms the can be passed from one person to another through sexual practices (Landry & Higgins, 2013). The goal of this exercise was to promote healthy and safe sex practices whilst arming high school students with the necessary knowledge to avoid STDs. The chief rationale for this community health exercise is that when the spread of STDs is arrested at the teenage-levels, the overall cost of disease prevention will be lower across the board. Researchers reckon that “despite their burdens, costs, and complications, and the fact that they are largely preventable, STDs remain a significant public health problem in the United States” (Kirby, Short, & Zabin, 2014, p. 338). Consequently, this community teaching exercise is among efforts to create public awareness at the grassroots level (among high school students) through structured public health programs.
The other important epidemiological rationale for the teaching plan is that if the spread of STDs is left unchecked, it can lead to harmful and often irreversible health problems. This teaching program involved among other things, an outline of the prevalence rates of the most common STDs including HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, and Chlamydia. Within the context of health science studies, it is expected that most high school students are already aware of the fact that some of the highlighted STDs can lead to reproductive health problems later on in life. Students are also expected to have prior knowledge concerning the connection between prenatal and fetal health problems. However, in the course of the teaching exercise, most of the questions that the audience raised did not align with reproductive health. Instead, most students appeared to be concerned with the physical effects of STDs such as developing rashes and deformities.
Cancer is one of the most active pandemics in modern times and its connection to STD-prevention makes this community-teaching plan epidemiologically relevant. Although the connection between STDs and cancer is an issue that has not been explored fully, this research angle makes educating high school students about STDs a worthwhile experience. For instance, cancer cases are on the rise among young people (Ocfemia & Kent, 2013). Therefore, the cancer subject, which includes ways of controlling and managing the disease has become of importance to the current youthful generation. During the teaching experience, I asked how many students are affected by cancer directly or indirectly and over 50% of the audience raised their hands. The issue of HIV is also important to the global healthcare enterprise because as of yet there is no ultimate cure for this viral infection.
Of consequence is the fact that a host of STDs are known to facilitate the sexual transmission of HIV infection. One of the top priorities in reference to HIV prevention is to ensure that the number of new infections is reduced drastically. Teaching STD-prevention within high school settings is expected to impact the rate of HIV spread in a positive manner. Other relevant epidemiological rationales for the control of STDs include the fact that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that “there are twenty million new STD infections annually and the cost of treating STD-related issues in the United States amounts to approximately $16 billion per year” (Landry & Higgins, 2013). It is also important to note that there is a strong connection between women-health issues and STDs. For example, if STDs go untreated for a long period of time, they can lead to serious long-term health problems among young women. This relevance was evident because my presentation tended to have a bigger impact on girls than on boys in terms of immediate response.
Evaluation of Teaching Experience
I was both excited and anxious about the high school presentation because the modalities of this teaching experience have never been tested in the past. Therefore, the evaluation of the entire process was quite important to me. First, there is the evaluation of the entire teaching experience, which is a long-term endeavor (DeWitt, Goldberg, & Roberts, 2013). The short-term evaluation of the teaching experience took the form of video reviews, questionnaires, and anonymous scorecards from the students. One of the trends I observed in the course of the evaluation process was the fact that the questionnaires had a lot of ‘private questions’ contained in them. Therefore, I learned that there were several students who felt embarrassed or self-conscious about asking the certain question even although I had done my best to create a free environment.
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Listening back to the recordings of the session, I was encouraged by the fact that my command of the process was good and students neither mocked the lesson’s process nor disrupted the presentation in any way. The graphicness of some of the presentation slides ended up being the most captivating aspect of the teaching process. The imagination and interest of the audience were captured by the gnarly symptoms of STDs. Although the open dialogue did not work as I had initially expected, there were slight improvements in the process from start to finish. One of the most enjoyable parts of the presentation was the question-asking sessions where the students got a chance to seek answers. One of the most interesting questions that were asked at this time involved oral sex. The theme of oral sex and its connection to STDs is evidently of importance to students and it warrants further attention. Although the beginning of the presentation did not go as expected (probably because I was a bit nervous about the outcome of the process), the ending was quite encouraging, because it was evident that the audience was left yearning for more. One of the most unexpected outcomes of the presentation was the fact that my references on Facebook did not arouse significant interest as compared to other media platforms such as Instagram.
Community Response to Teaching
The connection between STDs and the community exists on various levels including the familial, religious, and public health realms. Therefore, as part of the school curriculums, STD-prevention education only addresses the problem from a logical perspective. For instance, the church addresses the issue of STDs from moral and ethical perspectives. The response to this teaching program has not yet elicited any strong emotions from any particular stakeholders. The teachers, parents, religious entities, and community boards consider the teaching program a dire necessity given the high prevalence of sexual activities among the youth. The audience of the presentation also consisted of a few adults. This unexpected portion of the audience was probably following the proceedings in their capacity as current or future parents/guardians. The fact that the contents of the teaching experience consist of mostly factual information means that opposition from the community is not expected.
Areas of Strengths and Areas of Improvement
The proceedings of the teaching experience went on without any major distractions and this makes the exercise easy to evaluate. The students were attentive throughout the session and most importantly, their levels of interest appeared to increase as the session progressed. For example, there was a general feeling of disappointment when the session ended. Furthermore, the presentation part went on without a hitch and the equipment did not malfunction, a common challenge during presentations. The main strength of the teaching process is the fact that the content of the presentation managed to appeal to the intended audience.
Consequently, the only plausible improvements to the presentation involve the manner in which the material is presented and not the content itself. The weaknesses of the teaching experience involve the fact that the use of open dialogue during the exercise failed to materialize. For instance, the incorporation of open dialogue acted as a derailment to the smooth one-sided presentation. The dialogue only opened up during the teachings on condom use because the explicit nature of this exercise prompted the students to loosen up. To improve the process, I should consider starting the teaching exercise with a stronger icebreaker. For example, although it would be a bit out of context, the lessons would be more interactional if they started with an interactive exercise such as a demonstration on condom usage.
DeWitt, T. G., Goldberg, R. L., & Roberts, K. B. (2013). Developing community faculty: principles, practice, and evaluation. American Journal of Diseases of Children, 147(1), 54-59.
Kirby, D., Short, L., & Zabin, L. S. (2014). School-based programs to reduce sexual risk behaviors: a review of effectiveness. Public Health Reports, 109(3), 339.
Landry, D. J. & Higgins, J. (2013). Factors associated with the content of sex education in US public secondary schools. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 35(6), 261-262.
Ocfemia, M., & Kent, C. K. (2013). The estimated direct medical cost of selected sexually transmitted infections in the United States, 2008. Sexually transmitted diseases, 40(3), 197-201.
Sales, J. M., & DiClemente, R. J. (2010). Adolescent STI/HIV prevention programs: what works for teens. Research Facts and Findings, 3(2), 1-2.
Wachtel, H. K. (2011). Student evaluation of college teaching effectiveness: A brief review. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 23(2), 191-212.