PATHS – Pathways for Authentic Teaching of Health Sciences

  • Project Description

    Pathways for Authentic Teaching of Health Sciences (PATHS) is a five year project designed to build health literacy knowledge and skills supported by a culturally responsive lens. PATHS will provide teachers and students in historically underserved rural and urban Virgnia communities with career awareness for the various educational trajectories and opportunities provided by health professions (Medical Lab Sciences, PT and OT, Radiation Science, and Dental Hygiene). PATHS will engage 60 secondary teachers (grades 7 through 12) over four years in a model program that provides curriculum and pedagogical support (professional development) guided by culturally responsive practices. Our aim is to support teachers and ultimately students in learning about the skills and content of health professions, the impact of social determinants of health (SDH), and to develop their ability to work with large data sets through medical tools related to precision health. The curriculum tools will be web-based modularized units to address five areas of health professions, SDH, and precision health and will provide content-rich and inquiry-based exposure to careers and skills necessary for health professions that are applicable to science, health/physical education, and career and technology education classrooms. Teachers will participate in two summer institutes with support during school-year follow-up sessions and virtual coaching. The project team along with the Virginia Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) will support teachers and their students with sharing their learning at Community Health Fairs, STEM Fairs, and other student research conferences.

  • Abstract

    Pathways for Authentic Teaching of Health Sciences (PATHS) is a five-year project designed to build health literacy knowledge and skills and career awareness of health professions to individuals in historically underserved rural and urban Virginia communities. Our primary aim is to develop, implement, and test a model program that provides culturally relevant curriculum and pedagogical training to secondary teachers (grades 7 through 12) that supports student learning of health professions, develops an understanding of social determinants of health (SDH), and builds skill with large data sets through medical tools related to precision health. Ultimately, our hope is to increase achievement outcomes and interest in STEM-related content areas. PATHS will engage 60 teachers in a two-year professional development.
    PATHS has four aims:
    AIM 1: Develop and test a culturally relevant web-based curriculum focused on health professions to meet the ethnically, racially, and culturally diverse students in today’s classrooms. The curriculum will help teachers understand the cultural needs of their students while developing their scientific content knowledge and skills needed by Health Professions to address current health issues and the social and environmental factors that influence health outcomes (social determinants of health). A case study approach will showcase each of the Health Profession focal areas (Medical Lab Sciences, Radiation Science, Physical and Occupational Therapy, and Dental Hygiene). Activities highlighting authentic science practices and data science strategies will extend the introductory content to help teachers and students make connections between the work of allied health professionals and ways to address community health disparities.
    AIM 2: Design and test content delivery methods that embed the core curriculum with immersive and authentic experiences to support student learning through culturally relevant approaches. The innovative curriculum delivery will include immersive learning experiences, including virtual tours, virtually simulated- interactive (health equipment with instruction to help) simulations, and peer spotlights.
    AIM 3: Develop, implement, and test a professional development program to support teachers’ use of the PATHS curriculum that includes: 1) summer professional development (PD), both in-person and virtual, for teachers using a two-year sequence (to address a subset of the allied health fields each year), 2) two virtual days of PD during each school year, and 3) quarterly virtual coaching for small teams of participants each school year.
    AIM 4: Provide instructional and delivery support for the development and execution of community engaged health events in collaboration with VA AHEC.
    Success will be measured by multiple indices including: meeting targeted participation rates of teachers and students; teacher evaluations of the project; and demonstrated learning of the content presented; completion of the community engagement project; and in-school student learning based on the implementation of the curriculum materials and increased student interest in STEM career. These and additional measures are further described in the evaluation section.
    By accomplishing these aims, participation in the PATHS program will increase enrollment in programs in STEM-H and an improved understanding of health care issues with the ability to use/analyze health care information.

  • Dissemination Strategies

    Conference Presentations
    Publication of Modules online

Project Audience

Teachers and students for grades 7 through 12

Subjects Addressed

Health Profession Careers
Culturally Responsive Teaching
Social Determinants of Health
Precision Health (Data Analysis)