What Makes Curriculum Effective?

What Makes Curriculum Effective?

Effective sexuality education programs prevent or reduce risky sexual behaviors by helping young people postpone sexual intercourse and increasing the use of risk reduction methods in those who are sexually active. Research has shown that such programs have the following 17 characteristics.

The first set of characteristics is found in the process of developing the curriculum:

1.  Involved multiple people with expertise in theory, research, and sex and STD/HIV education to develop the curriculum.

2.  Assess relevant needs and assets of the target group.

3.  Used a logic model approach to identify health goals, behaviors affecting those goals, risk and protective factors related to the behavior, and activities to change the risk and protective factors.

4.  Designed activities consistent with community values and available resources, such as staff time and skills, facility space, and supplies.

5.  Pilot-tested the program.

The second set of characteristics pertains to the contents of the curriculum:

6.  Focused on clear health goals: prevention of HIV/STD, pregnancy, or both.

7.  Focused on specific behaviors leading to these health goals, gave clear messages about the behaviors, and addressed situations that might lead to them and how to avoid them.

8.  Addressed sexual psychosocial risk and protective factors that affect sexual behavior and changed them.

9.  Created a safe social environment for young people to participate.

10. Included multiple activities to change each of the targeted risk and protective factors.

11. Used instructionally sound teaching methods to actively involve participants, help them personalize the information, and change targeted risk and protective factors.

12. Used activities, instructional methods, and behavioral messages that were appropriate for culture, developmental age, and sexual experience.

13. Covered topics in a logical sequence.

The last set of characteristics addresses the process of implementing the curriculum:

14. Secured at least minimal support from authorities.

15. Selected educators with desired characteristics, trained them, and provided monitoring, support, and supervision.

16. Implemented activities to recruit and retain participants and overcame barriers to their participation as needed.

17. Implemented virtually all activities with reasonable fidelity.

Click here for a PDF document outlining these Characteristics of Effective Programs.

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Source: Kirby, D. (2007). Emerging Answers 2007: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

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