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Focus On Basics

Volume 2, Issue C ::: September 1998

NCSALL's Focus on Research: Health a Relatively High Priority, Suggests Survey

by Barbara Garner
Findings from a recent NCSALL survey of 52 state directors of Adult Basic Education (ABE) suggest that health as a content area and health as a skill area are relatively high priorities for them. However, state directors identify a number of barriers, among them lack of good curricula and health-related teacher training, as constraints to implementing health as a content area in ABE. Each state and U.S. protectorate has a director of Adult Basic Education, responsible for administering federal adult basic education funds and policies.

The survey was developed by NCSALL's Dr. Rima Rudd as part of her on-going examination of health and literacy. State directors were asked to rate the value of health as a content area, as a subject of study, as a skill area, and as a barrier to learning. They were asked about barriers to incorporating health lessons in adult learning centers. They were also asked to identify the concerns or considerations that must be addressed before teachers could incorporate health as a content area. The survey also invited commentary.

Of the 52 state directors, 46, or 88 percent, completed and returned the survey form. Each of the four regions of the country Northeast, South, Midwest, and West was represented.

The state directors were asked to rate four different aspects of health and literacy on a five point scale, with one indicating low priority and five indicating high priority. They offered a mean rating of 3.8 higher than mid-range to health as a content area in support of curriculum goals. They offered a similarly higher than mid-range rating, 3.5, to the extent to which health of adult learning is a barrier to learning. In both questions, the mean rating was the same for each region of the country. Overall, health as a content area, a subject of study, a skills area, and a barrier to learning, was offered a higher than mid-range rating.

While supportive of health as a content area, the state directors identified multiple barriers to addressing health in ABE and English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) classes. The barriers include those related to teaching and those related to students. The most frequently listed barrier was lack of curriculum (resources) and/or teacher training on the topic. "[Teachers need] training in contextualized learning and targeted health education training [as well as] resources dedicated to community partnerships, particularly between ABE/ESL and health services," wrote one state director. Existing demands on teachers' time was also cited, by 15 state directors, as a barrier to addressing health in ABE and ESOL classes.

Full Report Available

The research report upon which this article is based is available for $5.
For a copy, contact
Kimberly French
NCSALL Reports
World Education /NCSALL
44 Farnsworth Street

Boston, MA 02210-1211
Updated 7/27/07 :: Copyright © 2005 NCSALL