Educators are increasingly aware that student engagement is vital for effective health education.
Nathan Trengove, Health and Physical Education teacher from Warwick Senior High School explains, “If students are not engaged in the lesson, learning cannot take place. Good organisation and the use of a range of mediums are also important.”
This goes beyond academics – to social emotional learning as well.
Mr Trengove goes on to say “In this day and age the mental and emotional wellbeing of students is of utmost importance to schools. Students are more likely to be diagnosed with mental health issues and partake in risky health behaviours both in person and increasingly online. It is becoming increasingly difficult to engage students and teach them the skills required to live a mentally healthy life.”
Australia’s emphasis on a strength-based health curriculum can help address social issues such as cyberbullying, substance abuse and more.
According to Dr Donna Barwood from Edith Cowan University, one current trend shows a disturbing increase in the number of young girls turning to prescription and illicit drugs to avoid the caloric content of alcohol.
Trends like this highlight the need for health educators to provide not only quality health literacy education but social emotional skills as well.
Holyoake considered these issues when creating the health curriculum for the DRUMBEAT Quest computer game. This collaborative project utilised the knowledge of teachers from diverse teaching backgrounds to ensure that mental health education and social emotional learning were at the forefront of this engaging program.
With a growing community of over fifty schools and youth organisations, DRUMBEAT Quest provides the flexibility needed by health educators and numerous opportunities for assessment to assist with student reporting.
Mr Trengove also describes the challenges with mandatory reporting “With health only being taught during a one hour period once each week, we miss a lot of lessons for public holidays, excursions, etc. It is difficult to teach the content required to assess students accurately, particularly when absences come into play.”
The DRUMBEAT Quest health curriculum includes a variety of immersed cooperative teaching and learning strategies, clear and comprehensive lesson plans and marking rubrics to support teachers and facilitators through game play and facilitated discussion.