Revista Adolescência e Saúde

Revista Oficial do Núcleo de Estudos da Saúde do Adolescente / UERJ

NESA Publicação oficial
ISSN: 2177-5281 (Online)

Vol. 14 nº 3 - Jul/Sep - 2017

Original Article Imprimir 

Páginas 46 a 53


Resources and methodologies used by biology teachers for the teaching-learning of the health transversal theme in the public school

Recursos y metodologías utilizados por el profesor de biología para la enseñanza-aprendizaje del tema transversal salud en la escuela pública

Recursos e metodologias utilizados pelo professor de biologia para o ensino-aprendizagem do tema transversal saúde na escola pública

Autores: Nathalie Emanuelle Pigoretti Lousan1; Lúcia Rondelo Duarte2; Leni Boghossiam Lanza3

1. Master`s Degree in Education for Healthcare Practitioners, Pontifical Catholic University in São Paulo (PUC-SP). Sorocaba, São Paulo State,Brazil. Professor in Basic Education, São Paulo State Education Bureau. Sorocaba, São Paulo State, Brazil
2. PhD in Biological Sciences - Nursing. Associate Professor, Nursing Department, Pontifical Catholic University in São Paulo (PUC-SP). Sorocaba, São Paulo State, Brazil
3. PhD in Psychology. Assistant Doctor, Nursing Department, Pontifical Catholic University in São Paulo (PUC-SP). Sorocaba, São Paulo State, Brazil

Nathalie Emanuelle Pigoretti Lousan
Rua Dr. Arthur Gomes, 123 apto 12, Centro
Sorocaba, SP, Brasil. CEP: 18035-690
nathalie.biologia@gmail.com

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Keywords: Education, Primary and Secondary, faculty, learning, health education.
Palabra Clave: Enseñanza fundamental y media, docentes, aprendizaje, educación en salud.
Descritores: Ensino fundamental e médio, docentes, aprendizagem, educação em saúde.

Abstract:
OBJECTIVE: Identify the key features and methodologies used by biology teachers when working with cross sectional health theme in public school and reflect on the efficiency of student learning.
METHODS: This is an exploratory descriptive study of qualitative character, where 24 semi-structured interviews were conducted with high school teachers of school units from seven municipalities in the interior of São Paulo. In the organization and analysis of data was used, respectively, the collective subject speech and the content analysis, in the analysis mode thematic.
RESULTS: The analysis of thematic categories and subcategories points to a teaching practice that combines traditional classroom (blackboard, textbook, workbook, text reading and analysis of disease cycle) with participatory class (discussion, contextualization, research / seminars, question box and controversial issues), adopted by 12 respondents. It was also identified the following categories: visual aids (videos, interviews and anatomical parts) and multidisciplinary approach (projects and cross-cutting themes), adopted by fewer teachers. It was observed the difficulty of understanding the expanded concept of health and that the diversification of resources and the adequacy of the classes are related to their availability of use in the school, since each presents different resources.
CONCLUSION: We propose a continuous formation work with these teachers as a way to overcome the difficulties encountered, in search of meaningful learning and the student's empowerment for the necessary changes to health promotion.

Resumen:
OBJETIVO: Identificar los principales recursos y metodologías utilizados por los profesores de biología al trabajar con el tema transversal salud en la escuela pública y reflejar sobre la eficiencia de éstos en el aprendizaje de los alumnos.
MÉTODOS: se trata de una pesquisa descriptiva exploratoria de carácter cualitativo, donde fueron realizadas 24 entrevistas semiestructuradas con profesores de enseñanza media pertenecientes a unidades escolares de siete municipios del interior de São Paulo. En la organización y análisis de datos fue utilizado, respectivamente, el Discurso del Sujeto Colectivo y el Análisis de Contenido, en la modalidad del Análisis Temático.
RESULTADOS: El análisis de las categorías y subcategorías temáticas apunta a una práctica docente que mezcla clase tradicional (pizarra, libros didácticos, apostilla, lectura de texto y análisis de ciclo de enfermedades) con clase participativa (debate, contextualización, pesquisa/seminarios, box de preguntas y temas polémicos), adoptada por 12 entrevistados. Fueron identificadas también las siguientes categorías: recursos audiovisuales (vídeos, entrevistas y piezas anatómicas) y enfoque multidisciplinario (proyectos y temas transversales), adoptados por un número menor de docentes. Se constató la dificultad de comprensión del concepto amplio de salud y que la diversificación de recursos y adecuación de las clases están relacionadas con su disponibilidad de uso en la escuela, pues cada una presenta recursos diferentes.
CONCLUSIÓN: se propone un trabajo de formación continua con esos profesores, como un camino de superación de dificultades encontradas, en busca del aprendizaje significativo y del apoderamiento del alumno para los cambios necesarios en la promoción de salud.

Resumo:
OBJETIVO: Identificar os principais recursos e metodologias utilizados pelos professores de biologia ao trabalhar com o tema transversal saúde na escola pública e refletir sobre a eficiência destes na aprendizagem dos alunos.
MÉTODOS: Trata-se de uma pesquisa descritiva exploratória de caráter qualitativo, onde foram realizadas 24 entrevistas semiestruturadas com professores do ensino médio pertencentes a unidades escolares de sete municípios do interior de São Paulo. Na organização e análise dos dados foi utilizado, respectivamente, o Discurso do Sujeito Coletivo e a Análise de Conteúdo, na modalidade da Análise Temática.
RESULTADOS: A análise das categorias e subcategorias temáticas aponta uma prática docente que mescla aula tradicional (lousa, livros didáticos, apostila, leitura de texto e análise de ciclo de doenças) com aula participativa (debate, contextualização, pesquisa/seminários, caixa de perguntas e temas polêmicos), adotada por 12 entrevistados. Foram identificadas também as seguintes categorias: recursos audiovisuais (vídeos, entrevistas e peças anatômicas) e enfoque multidisciplinar (projetos e temas transversais), adotados por um número menor de docentes. Constatou-se a dificuldade de compreensão do conceito ampliado de saúde e que a diversificação dos recursos e a adequação das aulas estão relacionadas com sua disponibilidade de uso na escola, pois cada uma apresenta recursos diferentes.
CONCLUSÃO: Propõe-se um trabalho de formação contínua com esses professores como um caminho para a superação das dificuldades encontradas, em busca da aprendizagem significativa e do empoderamento do aluno para as mudanças necessárias a promoção da saúde.

INTRODUCTION

Today, health is viewed as a dynamic concept, a universal right and something that people build up in the course of their lives, through their social and cultural relationships. This is why education is rated as a key factor for promoting health. When educating for health in a contextualized and systematic manner, teachers and classroom communities play a decisive role in shaping citizens able to boost health levels at the personal and collective levels1.

Due to its rich cultural dynamic, school is a place offering vital social references for children and adolescents, to an increasing extent offering possibilities of providing significant experiences of community life. This is why some people view the classroom as a place of transition between the world of the home and the broader world outside. Consequently, school culture consists of social and cultural practices, together with broad-ranging behavioral aspects, extending beyond classroom walls. From this standpoint, the implementation of a health program in schools is justified, included and integrated in daily routines and classroom cultures that reach outside their boundaries.

Working on health promotion with pupils and classroom communities requires a starting point: "what they know "and "what they can do", helping each child develop the ability to interpret their daily lives and act in ways that incorporate attitudes and/or behaviors that help upgrade the quality of life2. The foundations of this process are the attitudes and knowledge of each individual, developing autonomy through competences that ensure full exercise of citizenship. It is consequently expected that education practitioners should encourage the exercise of citizenship in the course of their work, together with community participation among pupils, which is a basic health promotion principle3.

The results of several studies have indicated that health education based on the traditional medical model is not enough to trigger changes in attitudes with healthier life options that minimize situations jeopardizing the health of children, adolescents and young adults4.

With the introduction of the National Syllabus Parameters (PCNs) for secondary schools, significant participative appreciation and learning was stressed more effectively. The topic of health was established as a transversal theme running through every area in the syllabus, precisely because it raises a challenge for education in terms of the possibility of ensuring effective learning processes that transform lifelong habits and attitudes. Conveying information on how the body works and describing the characteristics of diseases, while urging healthy habits, are not enough for pupils to develop healthy life attitudes. It is necessary to educate them for health, taking into account all aspects involved in the formation of habits and attitudes that run through their daily lives, in school and elsewhere.

The teaching-learning process is complex but dynamic, not occurring on a linear basis as a sum of content added to knowledge acquired previously5. It requires directed actions that ensure pupils extend meanings in greater depth elaborated through their participation, while requiring teachers to engage in permanent reflection, being constantly available to monitor, research and care, which presumes the appearance of unforeseen and unknown situations6. The act of teaching-learning must consist of a set of interconnected activities where these different players share responsibilities and commitments to a steadily increasing extent.

The duties and responsibilities of Biology teachers include linking up the health-related themes and content proposed in the syllabus to health promotion and disease prevention efforts, taking into consideration the specific needs of each classroom community, in order to ensure effective contributions to pupil learning processes, thus enhancing their quality of life7.


OBJECTIVES

The objective of this study is to identify the main resources and methodologies used by Biology teachers when working on the transversal health theme in government schools, while also reflecting on their efficiency for pupil learning curves.


METHODS

This exploratory, descriptive research project has a qualitative profile, conducted in 24 secondary schools in the São Paulo State network in seven municipalities clustered under the Votorantim Teaching Department (D.E.Vot.). The invitation to participate in this study was proffered by the Biology Teaching Unit Coordinator at this Department, and was accepted by 24 teachers.

The respondents completed a social and demographic datasheet in order to collect their personal and professional information. Subsequently, all interviews were conducted and recorded in audio, with a semi-structured format steered by guiding questions. These data were collected between June and September 2014.

The content of the oral interviews was tabulated with the key expressions and core ideas underpinning the discourse of each subject, based on the Collective Subject Discourse (CSD) framework. Using materials drawn from the key expressions and core ideas, synthesis-discourses were constructed in the first person singular, which are the Collective Subject Discourses (CSD), through which the thinking of a group or collectivity is reflected in the form of an individual discourse8.

In order to analyze and interpret the data, content analysis was used in the thematic analysis mode. The core ideas of the collective discourses were rated as sub-themes, categorized into major themes in order to establish an interpretive synthesis responding to the research problem. Word clouds were constructed in order to visualize the occurrence of the words found in the respondent discourses. Social and demographic data were analyzed by variable frequencies.

This research project was approved by the Research Ethics Committee with Human Beings at the Medical and Health Sciences School, Pontifical Catholic University in São Paulo, under Protocol Nº 645.376. All the respondents signed Deeds of Informed Consent, with their anonymity assured.


RESULTS

Most of the interviewed teachers were male, between 21 and 40 years old, with a degree in Biological Sciences earned between 1 and 23 years previously. They had been teaching for 1 to 20 years, and working at their current school for 1 to 10 years, lecturing in Sciences and Biology to secondary school classes, with work-weeks of 30 to 49 classroom-hours, employed through public competitive examinations (Table 1).




It was noted that twelve teachers adopted a teaching practice blending traditional classes with participative activities when teaching health-related subjects. In the traditional classes, the resources most commonly used were textbooks and workbooks. Participative classes focused on discussions, with pictures and videos the most commonly used audiovisual resources (Table 2).




The vast majority of springboard aspects related to the Transversal Health Theme (21) underscores this topic as a spur for interest and participation among pupils, particularly when classes address the theme of sexuality.


DISCUSSION

During the teaching-learning process, the teacher must bear in mind that pupil knowledge is always a process under construction, which is why appropriate methodologies must be deployed to mobilize and prepare these youngsters for their ongoing quest for knowledge9. During this process, the teaching-learning methodologies used by teachers to approach content are related to a teaching method. There are several teaching methods that may be deployed in order to convey knowledge to pupils and these methods may be packed with educational resources that ensure the proposed goals are reached.

Traditional classes are described in education and teaching literature, but there are different means and resources that may be deployed with outcomes that have proven to be positive10. Among the respondents in this research project, nine of them mixed and merged traditional classes with audiovisual resources. However, diversification of resources and adaptation of classes are related to their availability for classroom use, as each of these schools is endowed with different resources. Although the basic rules for State schools11 require them to be organized in ways that meet the social, educational and learning needs of pupils in buildings with appropriate classrooms and furniture, fitted with teaching and educational resources, the reality does not really constitute an even playing field.

It is known that the traditional presentation type of class basically consists of a way of telling pupils about a wide variety of contents, with the teacher at the center of the class, which may become tiring, boring and not significant for pupils. According to Freire12, "knowing how to teach does not mean conveying knowledge, but rather opening up possibilities for its production or construction"(24p.).

In this study, the presence of textbooks was noted as a tool underpinning health-related content in the syllabus, as eight of the teachers believed that the workbooks (for teachers and pupils) offered by the São Paulo State Education Bureau (SEE-SP) are very shallow on this subject. When querying whether textbooks were valued too highly, Santomé13 underscored "the urgent need to prepare alternative materials that contribute to the preparation of supportive, responsible and democratic citizens able to understand, intervene and transform reality"(183p.).

In the participative classes, six respondents in this study stressed the importance of appreciating the prior knowledge acquired by their pupils and their interests, including on subjects proposed by the syllabus, while respecting the autonomy and dignity of each of them which, according to Freire12, "is an ethical imperative and not a favor that we may or may not offer to some and not others"(58p.).

An interesting example of participative methodology that was mentioned by only one teacher is what is known as the "investigative case study" or "strategic case study". The case study is based on instruction through the use of narratives (either real or fictitious) in which the themes - in this case health - is related directly or indirectly to the subject: Biology. The pupils then strive to work collaboratively in understanding the facts, collecting data to support their conclusions and take decisions, discussing their findings with their classmates14. This is seen as a rather feasible and stimulating resource, but requires study, with a solid foundation for selecting and developing the themes, with careful application. The requirements underlying this resource are closely aligned with those of problem-based learning (PBL), which seems to derive from the theories of Ausubel, Bruner, Dewey, Piaget, Rogers15 and Freire12, being one type of Active Learning Methodologies (ALM).

Only one teacher mentioned multi-disciplinary projects used to work on health-related themes such as sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases and hygiene, involving all teachers in the school. Although not working in this way at other schools, many teachers acknowledge the importance of addressing health-related themes in a multi-disciplinary manner, always seeking a better learning process for their pupils while involving other teachers, not only the Biology teacher.

The eager interest shown by students in health-related themes indicated that this was an aspect making it easier for teachers to address this content - which was already expected as a result of this research project. Pupils identified with this subject, precisely because it is part of their daily lives, bridging the gap between concepts learned in the classrooms and their real-life experiences ensuring greater availability to learn, which is an essential condition for a significant learning process16.

At various times in their discourses, the teachers mentioned that pupil participation and interest was even more marked when addressing matters related to sexuality, which is a result aligned with the findings Lima and Vasconcelos17. These authors reached the conclusion that this interest among schoolchildren is aligned with adolescence, when countless physical and behavioral changes occur. During this period, a start is made on adult habits, with most of these youngsters feeling more comfortable about discussing this matter with their teachers rather than with their families, due to possible missteps caused by a lack of knowledge or not knowing how to deal with this situation.

Among the other springboards found in the discourses of the respondents, the ease with which some teachers identified with these themes was particularly noteworthy, working on them with enjoyment and conveying this pleasure to their pupils, resulting in happy classes full of humor and hope. Positive teacher attitudes such as this are rated as a determining factor in teacher-pupil relationships, with favorable ripple effects on learning processes18.

Looking at aspects rated as hurdles, unequal acceptance of health-related topics was clear, among and within classes, together with pupils indifferent to teachers and classes, with difficulties in understanding some aspects viewed as "boring" and "difficult" by the pupils, such as the parasite lifecycles causing worm infestations. This contradiction and lack of interest can be overcome through methodological diversity and the deployment of different educational resources.

A constraint on this study was the fact that the interview guide did not include a question on the concept of health held by the teachers, precisely because it was believed that they are quite clear about this. But when analyzing the results, it became evident that there is confusion over the conceptualization of health and/or the subthemes encompassed by this subject. For example, when mentioning in their discourses: "...themes such as health, disease...", "...we go on addressing health when what you see is disease cycles...", "...when really getting into the health part, diseases..., "when you talk about diseases...", "...fear of catching diseases...", "...they are habits...things that are hard to address...", "...when talking about health, you are also talking about hygiene...", "...STD...", which reflect a static concept of health, focused on disease and hygiene that is now outdated.

Together with traditional ways of addressing this theme through conveying information and content, when the real need is to work on values, attitudes and processes through classroom examples that are absorbed by pupils, this concept of health discourages favorable trends and changes leading to a healthier lifestyle, when it should rather encourage them.

Analyzing the discourse fragments mentioned above, it is necessary to agree with the reflection of Bassinello19. According to this author, the syllabus guidelines follow the same principles as old-fashioned hygiene handbooks that were once used by hygienist physicians, with the intention of eliminating bad habits, replacing them by healthier customs, such as avoiding addictions, eating well and exercising, in addition to personal grooming and environmental care. These handbooks were written by specialists, generally remote from the diverse school network, and equally aloof from the reality of teacher training process.

We believe in the importance of developing a better understanding and conceptualization of health and disease with the lecturers, as these terms already weigh heavily on health education, with much relevance to the quality of life of their pupils. Only thus will it be possible to build up a truly significant learning process, as before providing pupils with autonomy, it is necessary to achieve our own autonomy, learning to learn.

Although not demonstrating a full mastery of the health concept, the respondent teachers underscore the importance of health education in the classroom. Costa and Zancul20 obtained similar results, also stressing the importance of the discussion of ongoing training and guided activities for Science and Biology teachers as health educators in school.

Government school pupils must usually cope with methodologies that do not always awaken their interest in the subjects to be addresses, failing to buttress the effective construction of their knowledge. Neither are they offered mechanisms that help offset social gaps and lags rooted in problems ranging from family difficulties through to limited access to books, websites and other sources of knowledge. On the other hand, teachers also encounter difficulties, often arising from the absence of a solid university education focused on the construction of skills and competences, followed by permanent ongoing training, which would step up contacts between basic education institutions and universities and research centers, establishing research/knowledge links in their common interest21.

There are certainly no ideal approaches that guarantee pupil learning processes, particularly in view of the complexity of the subjects addressed. However, there are some methods that are potentially more favorable than others. The regular use of active learning methodologies in the classroom would help surmount both stumbling-blocks, as they are inter-conceptualized into interactive knowledge processes, encouraging everyone involved in teaching-learning processes, through activities that build up possibility for change, seeking the formation of citizens with initiative and responsible attitudes towards their own learning processes through constructing skills that allow them to seek information with a critical eye.


CONCLUSION

It was possible to identify the main educational resources deployed by the interviewed teachers when working with health-related themes, with most of them clearly using one or more resource/method in their classes. Nevertheless, we still believe that it is possible to deploy even more resources, including videos, educational games, seminars, dramatizations and problematizations in order to ensure that pupils are effectively engaged, thus buttressing their learning processes.

When describing the springboards and hurdles for pupil participation in classes on health-related themes, we also noted a lack of understanding of the concept of health among teachers, always linking it to the absence or presence of a disease.

Prompted by reflections on the outcomes of this study, we suggest an ongoing training project for these teachers as a way of surmounting these stumbling-blocks in the quest for a significant learning process that empowers pupils to make the necessary changes required for health promotion.


NOTE OF THANKS

To everyone who contributed directly or indirectly to this research project, especially the respondent teachers.


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