Community learning integrates service, and the instruction presents unique opportunities for students to utilize the course topics and theories they learn in class to enhance their understanding and to improve their communities (Lloyd et al., 2017). The community-based instructional approach not only enriches the learning experience but also strengthens local communities. This paper explores the experience of a community-based diabetes instruction program for patients of the Valley Day and Night Clinic.
Summary of Teaching Plan
The community teaching plan focused on primary prevention and health promotion of diabetes. The four-hour targets Mexican and African American patients of the Valley Day and Night Clinic. The program’s aims were derived from Healthy People 2020 (HP2020) objectives that relate to the primary prevention of diabetes and health promotion. The teaching plan sought to introduce community-based programs, enhance diabetes and CVD prevention, and promote physical activity, healthy nutrition, and food safety within the Texas Valley community. Participants were assessed for readiness to learn before the actual teaching.
Learning objectives were evaluated using placement, formative, diagnostic, and summative evaluation. Participants were asked to fill in the teacher and learning process evaluation questionnaires. They were issued with an anonymous evaluation questionnaire to rate the instructor’s effectiveness, instructional approach, and overall learning experience. Class members were also allowed to give suggestions about specific practices which could be added to the lesson plan and those that should be discarded to make it more effective.
The high incidence of diabetes justifies the primary prevention and health promotion of this health condition. About 382 people have type 2 diabetes worldwide, with projections indicating that the number will rise to 592 million people by 2030 (Phillips, 2014). Diabetes and CVD are leading causes of morbidity and early death worldwide (Sánchez et al., 2016). The government spends significant resources on managing this health problem. Furthermore, diabetes is preventable, another sound justification of the community teaching initiative. Primary prevention programs which promote healthy lifestyles can delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes (Walker et al., 2012). Research has further established that these patients need adequate support from family members and the local community (Walker et al., 2012). Besides, type 2 diabetes patients are likely to develop CVD, which can be prevented by taking statins (Hadley-Brown, 2010). In this respect, primary prevention through public awareness can promote healthy lifestyles and uptake of statins, consequently lowering the risk of diabetes.
Evaluation of Teaching Experience
Overall, I believe that this community teaching experience was a great success. Initially I exhibited nervousness and anxiety to speak in front of the adults. Facilitating an audience comprising of older people was a daunting task, especially considering that adults value self-direction and bring various life experiences to the class (Rabourn et al., 2018). Nevertheless, I feel I did well because of my strong passion for health promotion and vast knowledge about the topic, community service, and adult learning. The success and effectiveness of the program can be attributed to several factors discussed below.
First, I started with a brief assessment of participants’ learning needs and other aspects integral to learning, such as readiness to learn. This evaluation was informed by the question: what does the local community know about diabetes, especially its risk factors and management? Identifying the specific information the participants needed and considering their readiness helped me identify gaps in knowledge and skills and understand preferred learning styles. These insights proved useful by indicating where, to begin with, the teaching.
Second, the group’s adequate preparation for the community education experience contributed immensely to positive outcomes for both participants and me. The preparation assumed different formats, including asking the class questions regarding the topic of discussion. This strategy allowed them to share their experiences regarding the topic of discussion. This point was necessary considering that adult learners bring varied life experiences to the learning situation (Rabourn et al., 2018). Therefore, allowing the participants to comment on the topic allowed me to acknowledge and integrate their previous learning and knowledge base into the lesson plan. Analyzing issues that arose during this discussion helped in setting the tone and expectations for the training.
Third, learning theories provided a basic framework for understanding of how the participants learn. This knowledge helped me to make more informed decisions regarding the design, development, delivery, and evaluation of learning. Using only one learning theory could neither provide an adequate context for learning nor match the different learning needs. It is imperative to note that various instructional theories are best suited to distinct student profiles and learning outcomes. Therefore, combining the three frameworks helped design the lesson plan and select delivery methods that could support the learning objectives.
Fourth, I employed a variety of teaching methods to reinforce learning outcomes. Using multiple teaching instructional techniques enabled me to adapt the lesson to participants’ learning styles and other needs and actively engage them in the learning process. This consideration also allowed me to help them become independent learners, supporting them to achieve their objectives, and prepare them adequately to transfer the new knowledge and skills to a real-life situation. For example, the interactive presentation of the Healthy Plate and multiple walks around the school not only made the learning experience more fun and practical but also encouraged the participants to engage actively in instructional activities and contribute meaningfully to in-class tasks. The hands-on learning activities were also practical because adults learn best when given the opportunity to apply the theoretical concepts learned inside the classroom into real-life situations (Rabourn et al., 2018). Therefore, the interactive tasks proved to be appropriate ways to help the participants convert what they learn to solve practical problems in real-life situations.
Community Response to Teaching
Participants reacted positively to the topic and instructional content. The lesson addressed areas such as symptoms, risk factors, and treatments for type 2 diabetes. The excitement, anxiety, and other positive feelings attendees exhibited during the lesson can be attributed to the idea that adult learning is relevancy-oriented (Rabourn et al., 2018). In respect to this principle, the instructional content and tasks aligned with their learning goals (such as diabetes prevention, physical activity promotion, healthy nutrition, and food safety) and contributed directly to realizing their learning objectives.
Moreover, the participants seemed to enjoy interacting with me and relish my teaching style. Most of them were fully engaged in the in-class activities and contribute meaningfully to presentations and group discussions. Some learners appreciated my tendency to pay attention to each individual and felt free to ask questions and seek clarification on areas they did not understand. The class’s well-arranged experiences helped them find purpose and motivation to take part in and provide valuable inputs to all projects. They also found a variety of information and teaching approaches appealing. The community members were actively involved in the learning process such that everyone agreed voluntarily to take multiple walks around the teaching center.
Another evidence of a positive response to the experience was a high level of responsibility for individual learning. For instance, most of the participants seemed to be proactive in making decisions and choices regarding their lifestyles, including setting goals about engaging in physical activity. This point is consistent with the self-direction principle, which asserts that adults value autonomy. They believe that they can make their own decisions, are accountable for the consequences of their decisions, and manage their lives (Rabourn et al., 2018). Thus, the high sense of responsibility throughout the program evidences their satisfaction with the overall learning experience.
Finally, I have a strong conviction that participants retained most of the content and concepts they learned in the class. They asked nuanced questions about the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and CVD and the effectiveness of physical exercise and medicinal plants in treating the condition. Their enquiries and feedback illuminate their positive response towards the content and the overall lesson. However, conducting proper follow-ups could help to determine the true outcome and effectiveness of the education. For example, I may need to meet the participants and ask actual to identify what they learned, concepts, and practices they did not, and how the presentation can be improved. I believe that combining those insights with the outcome of the summative and formative evaluations can help to provide an accurate representation of participants’ learning and progress.
Areas of Strength and Improvement
One central area of strength was a deep mastery of the project topic. Extensive knowledge and understanding of the subject matter enhanced the quality of my instruction and student comprehension. Notably, a nuanced understanding of risk factors, diagnosis, and treatments for diabetes and CVD enabled me to plan and deliver the lesson by highlighting the main points. Having good knowledge of the health problem also allowed me to clarify misconceptions about diabetes, which ensured a deeper understanding.
Another area of strength was an excellent understanding of adult learning principles. As depicted throughout the lesson plan, I understood how adults learn, expect from their teachers, and the best learning environments. It is imperative to note that adult learners differ markedly from traditional students, such as orientation and readiness to learn (Rabourn et al., 2018). Considering these requirements enabled me to inspire and motivate the participants to engage in the program and successfully complete all assigned tasks and in-class activities.
Effective delivery of the teaching content contributed to enhanced participation, engagement, and learning. The ability to facilitate the presentation and in-class activities strengthened learning objectives and outcomes. Mainly, I helped patients to decipher what they needed to learn about diabetes, why this knowledge is important, and how they could be actively involved in acquiring it. Careful manipulation and arrangement of the environment allowed the attendees to experience important parts of the instructional content, leading to content mastery.
Poor time management was a primary concern because it took long to prepare, plan, develop, and implement the lesson. I invested significant amount of time to build working relationships with the local community members. Finally, I think I will need to solicit the necessary support and assistance when conducting a similar project in future. For example, I may select a community partner to offer assistance with designing the program, managing project logistics, and engaging individuals with special learning needs.
The community-based program employed an experiential learning pedagogy which integrated meaningful community service with coursework. The interactive presentation and in-class activities were provided with practical opportunities to apply course content to real-life community-based situations. Combining coursework and service (primary prevention and health promotion of diabetes) presented a unique chance to apply theoretical learning to real-life problems. Hands-on activities incorporated in the lesson enhanced my understanding of course content and helped strengthen the local community’s health awareness.
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Sánchez, A., Silvestre, C., Campo, N., Grandes, G., & PreDE research group. (2016). Type-2 diabetes primary prevention program implemented in routine primary care: a process evaluation study. Trials, 17(1), 254. Web.
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