The present paper will offer a reflection on a lesson with a focus on the evaluation of related teaching experience, community response, and the aspects that could be improved. The lesson was dedicated to the topic of the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and took place in Miami, Florida. The target audience consisted of high school students, and the primary aim was to prevent STDs by improving the awareness of the chosen population. The lesson was mostly successful, but the feedback from the students and their parents suggests that there is a potential for improvement.
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Summary of Teaching Plan
The teaching plan focused on three cognitive objectives and a behavioral one: students were supposed to learn about STDs and their transmission, as well as refusal skills, and they were to become familiar with the use of contraception. The objectives were in line with the HIV-2 one promoted by the “Healthy people 2020” (n.d.) program. Also, they correspond to the World Health Organization’s (1978) Alma Ata initiative from the perspective of disease prevention.
The teaching plan involved multiple methods, including presentation- and video-assisted lecture, role play, games, exercises, and discussions. The evaluation of the objectives was complex and incorporated a questionnaire, pre- and post-tests, and discussions. All the four objectives had specific evaluation plans. Additionally, it was suggested that the statistics related to STDs in the school should be assessed to determine the effectiveness of the intervention. The lesson plan included the considerations for possible barriers and the suggestions for managing them.
Epidemiological Rationale for Topic
The primary rationale for the choice of the topic is epidemiological. Recent research indicates that in the US, STDs, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), are rather prevalent (Oster et al., 2014). Based on the most recent data, the incidence of STDs in the country amounts to 20 million infections every year, but many of them remain unreported (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017, p. 1). In Florida, STDs rates have been growing (Florida Department of Health, Division of Public Health Statistics & Performance Management, 2018). Additionally, it should be noted that with the increase in the use of contraception, adolescents have become more sexually active (Liu et al., 2015). Consequently, it is necessary to direct prevention strategies at this population, and education is among relevant interventions. Thus, the chosen topic and the format of lessons is justified.
Evaluation of Teaching Experience
The teaching experience was predominantly positive, which can be attributed to the fact that most participants were interested in the topic. Additionally, it can be suggested that the variety of teaching approaches kept the students engaged. The process was mostly guided by the plan; no major changes were made, even though some problems with timing were encountered because the participants’ enthusiasm during discussions and plays made time management difficult. There were no problems with other resources. While it was anticipated that disruptive behaviors could occur, no such cases were encountered in practice.
On the other hand, the anticipation of the barrier related to the sensitivity of the topic proved to be warranted: four of the students found it difficult to participate, and one refused to do so. The latter student was not pressured, but the rest of them acknowledged the importance of the lesson and chose to take part. Given the specifics of the topic, it was decided that the interactive activities would focus on the students who were willing to engage in them; the majority of students did so. Thus, the process of teaching the students the described lesson was not very easy because of the nature of the topic, but the engagement of the audience improved the experience, facilitating it.
The community’s response was positive. Apart from the students, who were mostly interested in the topic, the management of the school which hosted the lesson was very supportive. The lack of problems related to resources can be attributed to its help. Also, the school’s healthcare specialists expressed their approval of the initiative and the willingness to monitor the outcomes. The parents were mostly supportive, but a few did not view the content of the program as appropriate. Interestingly, the parents had different perspectives; some of them were dissatisfied with the information about contraception, expressing the concern that it could promote early sexual encounters. However, other parents found the abstinence element of the lesson problematic because it could lead to the restriction of students’ sexuality. In general, though, the program received notable support.
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Areas of Strengths and Improvement
The main strengths of the program are that it appears to be effective and supported by students. It should be pointed out that the lesson was not compared to another lesson, but its evaluation results are still noteworthy. More than a third of students had low scores on STD knowledge before the lesson, but most of them had at least a moderate understanding of contraception. Even the students who did not actively participate in discussions and roleplays demonstrated an improvement of their pre-lesson scores with respect to the knowledge of contraception and STDs. In general, only one student did not show any improvement because her score was very high before the lesson; she reported that her parents had provided her with all the necessary information. The majority of students also found the topic of refusal skills interesting. The abstinence section was evaluated through a discussion which resulted in varied feedback. In particular, while many students noted that this element of the lesson was important, roughly a third of them also agreed that the approach was not applicable to everyone. As a result, they found other sections more significant to them.
Overall, 100% of the students described the lesson as helpful. Additionally, students complimented the use of media (especially presentation) and interactive approaches to learning (especially role-playing). However, some participants reported difficulties with discussions and role-playing because of embarrassment or personal dislike of such approaches in general. Most students agreed that the use of different teaching methods was likely to result in the engagement of the majority of the target audience.
The assessment of STD statistics was not carried out yet, but the students reported feeling more confident and equipped for preventing STDs in future. The students were also asked to evaluate the work of the teacher, and their comments were mostly positive. However, certain suggestions for improvement were also offered. In particular, several students noted that at certain points, the educator was not well-heard. It will be necessary to articulate the information more clearly; possibly, a microphone could help. Additionally, the students who reported embarrassment wanted more support. Finally, some students suggested that different versions of the course (with and without the abstinence element) could be developed. Given the different perspectives of parents, this option may be feasible.
In summary, based on the evaluation of the teaching experience and lesson itself, the latter appeared to be successful. It was mostly supported by the stakeholders as well. However, the problem of students’ embarrassment may require additional interventions. Also, the development of several customized programs might be in order. Overall, the lesson has achieved its goal because it allowed students to improve their STDs and contraception knowledge and promote their refusal skills.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Reported STDs in the United States, 2016. Web.
Florida Department of Health, Division of Public Health Statistics & Performance Management. (2018). Total gonorrhea, chlamydia & infectious syphilis. Web.
Healthy people 2020. (n.d.). Web.
Liu, G., Hariri, S., Bradley, H., Gottlieb, S. L., Leichliter, J. S., & Markowitz, L. E. (2015). Trends and patterns of sexual behaviors among adolescents and adults aged 14 to 59 years, United States. Sexually transmitted diseases, 42(1), 20-26.
Oster, A. M., Sternberg, M., Nebenzahl, S., Broz, D., Xu, F., Hariri, S.,… Paz-Bailey, G. (2014). Prevalence of HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and viral hepatitis by urbanicity, among men who have sex with men, injection drug users, and heterosexuals in the United States. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 41(4), 272-279.
World Health Organization. (1978). Declaration of Alma-Ata. Web.