Enhancing Students’ Learning about Healthy Living through Community Participation


Introduction: The Health Enhancement Module (HEM) is taught as a core curriculum for all medical students at Monash University since 2002. In 2012 we moved the year three content of the program into a community setting, calling it the Health Enhancement Carnival (HEC). At the carnival, our undergraduates interacted with school students, their teachers, and their parents, involving them in a mix of discussions, poster presentations, and video presentations. In this paper we present our experience with the HEC. Specifically, we looked at the following two measures: how did the HEC influence the knowledge, attitude, and practice of healthy living among medical students? And, what were the learning experiences of the students during the HEC? Methods: Five themes (exercise, food, healthy sleep, workplace stress and ageing) were divided among students. They were asked to develop those themes with the help of posters, power point presentations, community talks as well as video presentations. The carnival was held in the setting of two nearby children’s schools. Students were evaluated by a panel of examiners with regards to learning objectives as well as preparation and presentation. As part of evaluation, we developed 2 questionnaires. The HEP Healthy Living Questionnaire provided feedback on how the program had improved students’ knowledge, attitudes, and practice of healthy living. The HEP Learning Style Questionnaire covered twelve areas, including collegiality, environment, leadership, community interaction and other facets of learning style. Analyses were performed using the IBM SPSS Statistics version 20 software in the Clinical School Johor Bahru. Results: 1) Influence of HEC on the knowledge, attitude, and practice of healthy living among medical students. From the interviews, the judges gave the students mean ratings of 4.0/5. We also received 77 out of 127 feedback questionnaires (response rate: 60.6%) from the students. Most students (range: 49.35% to 55.84%) were “satisfied/totally satisfied”, “achieved/totally achieved”, or “improved/totally improved” to 5 questions of the Healthy Living Questionnaire. Correlation coefficients between knowledge of healthy living, attitude towards healthy living, and practice of healthy living were large (exceeding 0.8) suggesting that these three measures were highly and positively inter-correlated. Most students (range: 60.28% to 71.43%) scored “a lot/almost all”, to 5 questions regarding achievement of learning objectives. 2) Learning experiences of the students during the HEC. Responding to the HEP Learning Style Questionnaire, most students (range: 66.24% to 85.72%) agreed or strongly agreed that the program provided an optimal environment for learning, encouraging students to assume leadership responsibilities and promoting self-directed learning. A correlation matrix of the 12 items showed medium to large correlations between all twelve variables. Conclusions: The Health Enhancement Program (HEP) is an innovative approach that has enabled students to learn about healthy living within the context of the local community.

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Gandhi, A. , Darnal, H. , Qureshi, A. , Sood, S. and Nordin, R. (2014) Enhancing Students’ Learning about Healthy Living through Community Participation. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 4, 771-778. doi: 10.4236/ojpm.2014.410087.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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