Health promotion and disease prevention rely primarily on individuals’ behaviors, choices, and habits. For this reason, providing education on health promotion strategies to the public is crucial to enhancing population health outcomes. The community teaching project completed as part of the course focused on educating adults aged 25 to 55 on the topic of healthy eating. The experience included delivering a presentation at the local community center, which was announced two weeks before the event so that all those interested in the topic could come. On the whole, the teaching experience was beneficial both for the participants and for the educator. The topic of healthy eating is highly relevant in the contemporary healthcare environment, and the presentation addressed all of the critical aspects of healthy eating, thus equipping the participants with tools and knowledge to improve their nutrition.
Summary of the Teaching Plan
The teaching plan was based on cognitive learning theory. As explained by Aliakbari et al. (2015), this theory highlights the importance of developing knowledge and understanding as part of learning about a specific topic. Consequently, the teaching plan focused on providing the participants with information that would help them to enhance their nutrition. Presentation at a community center was selected as a way to deliver the material because it ensures the undivided attention of the audience, thus helping them to learn the information quickly and efficiently. It was initially anticipated that the learning would be phased out in five separate sessions, but due to the circumstances, it was decided that a 30-minute presentation would be more appropriate.
The presentation was divided into four separate sections, one targeting each specific aspect of healthy eating. The first section sought to motivate the participants to learn more about healthy eating and make better food choices in their daily lives. Hence, this part of the presentation described the risks that an unhealthy diet entails, followed by a discussion of the benefits of a healthy diet. The second section introduced the concept of calorie counting by explaining what calories are and how to count them. The participants were given the formulas for calculating their basal metabolic rate and adjusting their daily caloric intake to their lifestyle. Additionally, this part of the presentation also offered some tips on counting daily caloric intake.
The third section utilized the approaches from cognitive behavioral therapy to provide the participants with easy techniques to make healthier food choices in their daily lives. The five strategies described in the presentation focused on setting goals, making gradual changes, monitoring progress, reducing stress, and increasing energy levels. Lastly, the fourth part of the presentation sought to help the participants to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy meals based on their content. The section drew comparisons between two different types of meals, which were supported with visuals. The assessment was planned for the final part of the presentation, but the educator opted against using paper-based tests due to coronavirus restrictions.
Epidemiological Rationale for the Topic
Healthy eating is crucial to modern-day health promotion because the availability of unhealthy products is high, and people’s diets have a direct effect on their health. According to Afshin et al. (2019), about 11 million deaths in 2017 were attributed to a poor diet, and many more people suffered from health conditions that decreased their life expectancy. There is a great variety of conditions, including life-threatening ones, the prevalence of which can be reduced dramatically by improving people’s nutritional habits. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the incidence of type 2 diabetes in the United States is between 7.6 and 15 percent, depending on the race, and heart disease was the leading cause of death among American adults (2019a; 2019b). Poor nutrition, including the high intake of sugars and saturated fats, contributes to both conditions. Furthermore, overeating also leads to obesity, which is a well-recognized public health issue in the United States. Encouraging people to make better food choices and equipping them with knowledge and techniques necessary to do so can reduce the burden of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other conditions on U.S. healthcare, thus improving population health outcomes.
Evaluation of the Teaching Experience
It is essential to note that the teaching experience faced some restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, which affected public gatherings. In the present case, the restrictions changed the length of teaching and the possibility of assessing students’ outcomes. After adjusting for the conditions, the teaching experience went smoothly and with no significant problems.
The presentation was developed in a large hall in a local community center, with approximately 50 participants present, all within the specified age range. There were some technical difficulties at the beginning of the presentation, but they were quickly resolved with the help of one of the staff members. The presentation was just over 20 minutes, with some time left at the end to allow the audience to ask questions or clarify the information provided.
The delivery of the material was tailored to the audience, with essential concepts and definitions explained. However, it is possible to note that the content was aimed at people who had some prior knowledge of nutrition because the explanation of technical terms was limited. For example, the presentation did not explain what carbohydrates, fats, and proteins were. This feature limited the usefulness of the teaching for people with no prior knowledge of the topic.
The structure of the presentation was excellent, which allowed incorporating all the important topics into a single, short lecture. At the end of the presentation, the participants had very few questions, and those were mostly focused on related topics rather than on the content of the slides. In preparing for the presentation, the educator sought to structure teaching in a way that would answer the participants’ most pressing questions in a logical sequence, and it seems like this goal was accomplished. This supported the delivery of material and enabled the participants to understand it easily.
Community Response to Teaching
The community response to teaching was measured in two ways. Firstly, the educator noted the audience’s reactions before, during, and after the presentation. Secondly, the participants were also asked to send their reviews and opinions by e-mail and to get in touch if they required any more clarification or information. Both assessments reflected a positive response to teaching, meaning that it was enlightening and helpful for the participants.
Throughout the presentation, the participants were taking notes either using pens and paper provided or on their phones and tablets. The participants’ body language showed that they understood the material and found it useful because they nodded regularly, read the content of the slides, and seemed to be engaged in the experience. At the end of the presentation, they got the opportunity to ask questions, and most students demonstrated a willingness to learn more along with their understanding of the presented material. For instance, one of the participants asked about how the daily calorie intake calculation can be adjusted to suit his weight loss goals. Another participant enquired about the potential dangers of sugar replacements, such as Splenda, because she related the material from the presentation to something that she had read online. Hence, the audience’s behavior and questions demonstrated positive attitudes toward the learning experience.
Out of approximately 50 participants who were present, 23 contacted the educator by e-mail to provide a review of the learning experience. The reviews were generally positive, with some individuals wishing for the education to be longer and more detailed. For example, one participant commented, “It’s a shame [the presentation] was so short, but it was still useful.” One of the most critical aspects of education was motivating the participants to make changes to their daily food choices, and the responses generally showed that this goal had been accomplished. Out of 23 reviews sent by e-mail, 15 people shared their experience of incorporating the strategies from the presentation into their daily lives. For instance, one woman wrote that “Smaller goals make it easier for me to avoid bingeing,” and another participant stated, “Now that I know what they do, it’s easier for me to eat more fruits and vegetables.” All in all, the responses gathered from the audience showed that the teaching was helpful and that the participants were hopeful about its effects on their lives and health.
Conclusion: Areas of Strength and Improvement
Following the evaluation of the teaching experience, it is possible to identify several strengths and areas for future improvement. On the one hand, the educator demonstrated the ability to structure the material efficiently and to deliver it in a way that leaves little to no need for clarification. As mentioned above, the questions that participants had at the end of the presentation dealt mostly with a related topic because the core content was explained well. It appears that the educator was also able to connect with the audience and engage it in the learning process by using clear, simple language and structuring the presentation properly. For example, the very first section focused on the dangerous outcomes of poor nutrition, which helped to gain the participants’ attention through the use of official statistics and figures.
On the other handsome things shouldld have been considered at the planning stage, such as the level of the participants’ knowledge about nutrition. The presentation was not suitable for people who had no prior knowledge of the topic because there was not enough time to explain the basic concepts in detail. In the future, it would be useful to specify the target level of knowledge prior to planning and structure the teaching accordingly. Moreover, the technical difficulties that occurred at the beginning of the presentation could have been avoided if the educator came to the community center to test the equipment before the specified time. While the error was not the educator’s fault, it could have been resolved earlier without stalling the learning process. This should also be taken into account in future teaching experiences.
- Afshin, A., Sur, P. J., Fay, K. A., Cornaby, L., Ferrara, G., Salama, J. S., Mullany, E. C., Abate, K. H., Abbafati, C., Abebe, Z., & Afarideh, M. (2019). Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. The Lancet, 393(10184), 1958-1972. Web.
- Aliakbari, F., Parvin, N., Heidari, M., & Haghani, F. (2015). Learning theories application in nursing education. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 4(1), 2-17.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019a). About prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Web.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019b). Heart disease facts. Web.