Evaluation of a Health Coaching Experiential Learning Collaboration With Future Health Promotion Professionals

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Purpose. The purpose of this study was to (1) describe the integration of experiential learning focused on health coaching in a graduate health promotion and behavior change course and (2) evaluate the impact of the experiential learning experience on students’ knowledge, attitudes, and self-efficacy related to health coaching. Method. All graduate students enrolled in a health behavior course were introduced to skills related to health coaching (N = 15). Students partnered with a campus-based physical activity program for obese college students and were paired up with participants of the program as their health coaches. All students (i.e., health coaches) were sent e-mail invitations to participate in the research study prior to the program’s start and on completion of the semester. Participation in the online survey indicated consent for participation in the study. The survey questions sought to gauge health coaches’ gain in knowledge and self-efficacy as a result of being immersed in the experiential learning process. Results. Students reported improved comfortability with the skills necessary to be a health coach (p = .02), improved self-efficacy for health coaching skills (p ≤ .05), and improved knowledge scores (p = .003). The majority (n = 6; 75%) of the students also reported that the experiential learning and participation as a health coach was beneficial. Conclusion. Incorporating experiential learning into an existing health promotion course was beneficial, particularly in improving health coaching skills. Considering the growth of the health coaching field, this strategy may be integrated into additional programs training future health educators and health promotion professionals.

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