An analysis of the delivery of health education by upper basic stage science teachers in Jordan
This study investigates the delivery of health education within the upper basic stage science curriculum in Jordan, which covers the crucial age range 13-16. It begins by exploring various definitions and models relating to health education with a view to selecting the most appropriate for use in this study. This is followed by a review of the literature to examine the different ways in which health education is delivered. Within Jordan, the policy on health education, as revealed by official documents and guidance issued to science teachers, is analysed. The teaching methods used by science teachers in the delivery of health education are also investigated, together with the content and nature of the various health education topics delivered. A variety of data collection methods were employed; questionnaires to establish the amount and content of health education taught, semi-structured interviews to find out the range of teaching and learning methods being employed and analysis of documentary materials. The study attempts to determine whether there are any particular factors that affect the amount and content of health education taught; these are teacher gender, region of Jordan, teaching subject (biology, chemistry or physics), qualifications in that subject, and teaching qualifications and experience. The data were collected in Jordan between September 1999 and January 2000. One of the major findings of the study was that the current policy regarding health education in Jordan is not clear. There is a tendency to emphasise theoretical aspects rather than practical ones, and the affective domain, resulting in values and behaviour change, receives very little attention. It was found that at present, five health areas are being delivered within the science curriculum; these are personal health, nutritional health, disease and prophylaxis, environmental health and education for married life. The amount of health education taught was in the 'moderate' or 'low' categories used in the study, with environmental health receiving the greatest emphasis, and education for family life the least. The latter was particularly variable, with significant differences among male and female teachers. This could be due to religious and cultural factors. The study suggests that the variation in the delivery of health education by science teachers is probably related to the lack of a clear policy from the Jordanian Ministry of Education, and the fact that health education topics are not clearly identified in the official curriculum documents. It recommends that a national policy is developed, from which regional and local policies can be adapted to meet different needs. Schools should also develop their own policies, particularly for the teaching of education for family life, with teachers, health professionals and local community leaders also involved. A greater precision in the description of health topics in the curriculum and the production of teacher guidance and relevant textbooks are also recommended. It is hoped that this study will help develop new strategies for the future of health education in Jordan and the future health of the nation.