The comparability of health education skill acquisition between undergraduate students enrolled in traditional and online health education courses
As web-based instruction becomes more prevalent in professional health education preparation programs, measures of quality need to be implemented to insure that program standards and health education skill acquisition by students are maintained. The purpose of this study was to examine if differences existed in the acquisition of health education skills between students enrolled in online and traditional undergraduate health education courses. The study was conducted utilizing a post-test, quasi-experimental design. Data was collected from course project grading rubrics based upon the care responsibilities of entry-level health educators. The course projects examined were contained within four courses offered in the traditional and online learning environments during the Fall 2004 and Spring 2005 semesters and represented the health education skills of assessing individual and community needs, acting as a resource person, planning effective health education programs, and evaluating the effectiveness of health education programs. Inter-racer reliability relating to these skills was determined. Statistical analyses indicated that no statistical differences existed in course project scores representing the health education skills of assessing individual and community needs and planning effective health education programs. Statistical results of course project scores representing the health education skills of acting as a resource person and evaluating the effectiveness of health education programs were statistically different. Students in the online condition scored statistically significantly higher than their traditional counterparts on the course project relating to the health education skill acting a resource person. Students in the traditional condition scored statistically significantly higher on the course project related to evaluating the effectiveness of health education programs. Inter-rater reliability for these two skills was not statistically correlated; therefore the results were met with caution. A one-way multivariate analysis of variance found that the scores relating to health education skill acquisition did not differ across the courses. A χ2 analysis found that the levels of attainment did not statistically differ between traditional and online health education students. The results of this study indicated that health education skill acquisition was comparable between students enrolled in traditional and online undergraduate health education courses during the Fall 2004 and Spring 2005 semesters.