primary school

Literature review in the field of health education in primary school

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Research interest in the health education practices of primary school teachers in Quebec and France is relatively recent, and published works are still few in number.

1. Synthesis of literature on practices in health education

The research conducted in Quebec has in common to shed light on the inclusion of health education in school, through the analysis structures of physical education, because part of the program of the physical educator includes health education. Moreover, this inclusion is done by favoring a single dimension of health: physical health. In France, the results of the three studies mentioned show, here again, that teachers, both in primary and secondary education, mainly work on the physical dimension of health through diet, personal hygiene and the safe practice of physical activity. physical. Only the results of the research conducted by Berger and his team (2007) suggest work in health education through the personal and social dimensions. We can think that the methodology adopted (analysis of professional writings) could be one of the causes of this observation. Indeed, the instruction given to the director, in connection with the collection of professional writings, was simply to collect all traces having a relationship with health education. The way directors understand what education is explains the variety of traces collected. Despite their relevance, this research, both in France and in Quebec, tell us little about the nature and complexity of health education actions carried out in schools; even less on their differences or similarities in different socio-cultural and political contexts.

2. Specific objectives

To answer our research question, we have attempted to describe and analyze the actions implemented in health education in primary school in Quebec and in France, by means of a comparison according to the following points: 1 ) the nature of the actions implemented in terms of health education in primary school; 2) the combination of reports worked on in the same action; 3) the complexity of the actions (independent action or interdependent actions) and 4) the field of inclusion of the actions in the promotion of an active lifestyle or under another health theme.

3. Methodology

The favored research approach is a comparative analysis based on a qualitative, descriptive and interpretative logic. Our methodological approach is based on the study of multiple cases that Merriam (1988) defines with reference to four main characteristics: 1) particularistic , because the object of the study is a restricted system: it is the case in itself which is important ; 2) descriptive , since the end result is a detailed description that nevertheless includes elements of interpretation; 3) heuristic, in the sense that it improves the understanding of the studied case and allows the emergence of new interactions, new variables, which can lead to a redefinition of the phenomenon and finally 4) inductive , which means that the study of case largely depends on the reasoning of the researcher.

4. Selection of schools

The 12 primary schools included in the study were selected from two school clusters: six within a school board in the Montérégie region of Quebec and six in a district of National Education, in the Auvergne region, in France.

In order to prevent the differences observed from being primarily linked to different characteristics of the schools, the schools were selected in such a way as to obtain groups that were as comparable as possible. It is important to specify here that school systems are rooted in cultures and histories that have shaped them over time, so that it is not possible to obtain strictly identical groups; for example, the average size of Quebec schools is much larger than that of French schools, some of which have only one or two classes, the deprivation indices, generalized in Quebec, do not exist in France). Due to the absence of a link between the size of schools and the deprivation index, we do not find homogeneous groups. However, our criteria allowed us to build a balanced and common corpus between France and Quebec for comparison. For this reason, a heavy work of reasoned construction of the sample was necessary.

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