Increasing Doctoral Students’ Self-Efficacy to Teach Health Promotion Theory

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Abstract

Health education specialists in academia and in the workplace must be effective teachers. However, doctoral programs often fail to equip students with effective teaching skills. In this study, we evaluate a first-year doctoral course that provided students the opportunity to learn how to teach health promotion theory, apply behavioral science theories and models to the development of health interventions, hone group facilitation skills, and develop their scientific writing abilities. Eight doctoral students completed a teaching self-efficacy assessment during the first and last class periods of a fall 2014 semester at a graduate school of public health in the United States. Throughout the semester, students reflected on their teaching. We applied a Wilcoxon signed-rank test to measure changes in pre- and postteaching self-efficacy scores and subjected student reflexive writings to a content analysis. The median increase in pre (Mdn = 63, range = 24-72) and post (Mdn = 76, range = 71-90) teaching self-efficacy scores were statistically significant for all participants (z = 2.523, p = .012). The students’ reflexive writings explained how this increase occurred. Students gained an awareness of skills needed to teach effectively. Students found the course challenging because it uncovered teaching role ambiguities as they became cognizant of their lack of facilitation and presentation skills. The increased awareness of their deficiencies initially decreased their teaching self-efficacy. However, continued engagement in the course allowed them to resolve deficiencies, resolve some role ambiguity, and experience a net increase in teaching self-efficacy.

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