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How Do Health Behaviours Acquired at School Translate into the Home? The Exploration of a Photovoice Project Among Students in APPLE Schools Open Access


Other title
child health
comprehensive school health
active living
healthy eating
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
McKernan, Christine M
Supervisor and department
Dr. Kate Storey, School of Public Health
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Douglas Gleddie, Faculty of Education
Dr. Paul Veugelers, School of Public Health
Dr. Lauren Sulz, Faculty of Education
School of Public Health
Health Promotion
Date accepted
Graduation date
2016-06:Fall 2016
Master of Science
Degree level
The prevalence of sedentary behaviours, physical inactivity, and poor diets is a major public health concern in Canada and worldwide. School and home environments play a significant role in influencing such behaviours, and are ideal settings for health promotion interventions. Educational approaches such as Comprehensive School Health (CSH) recognize the importance of the partnership between the school and home to achieve optimal success. The purpose of this research was to utilize and explore a photovoice project which examined how students involved in a CSH intervention, the Alberta Project Promoting active Living and healthy Eating in Schools (APPLE Schools), perceived the impact of this intervention on the home environment. Qualitative methods were used to address two objectives: 1) to gain an understanding of how students perceive the healthy eating and active living behaviours acquired in an APPLE School are translated into the home environment; and 2) to explore the utilization of a student-centered classroom photo project as a tool for teachers to determine if school-learned behaviours are reaching the home. Objective 1 employed focused ethnography as a method, and photovoice was used as the data generating strategy. Grade 5 and 6 students (n=25) from three APPLE Schools in the Edmonton area of Alberta, Canada participated in photo taking and subsequent one-on-one interviews which explored their perceptions of how involvement in APPLE Schools impacted their home environment. Interviews were structured as per the photovoice guidelines, and were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data collection and latent content analysis occurred concurrently. Student participants aided in the analytic process during a follow-up session to ensure accurate representation of the findings through member checking. Two main themes emerged: students are internalizing APPLE Schools philosophy, and students are driving change to create a healthy home culture. The underlying theme of leadership and decisional ownership was evident in the role that students took in addressing their health and the health of those around them. Results demonstrated that students were driving positive changes in the home environment through expanding their healthy habits by trying new things, catalyzing changes to the home food environment, engaging others in healthy eating and active living (HEAL) behaviours, and modifying unhealthy behaviours. Objective 2 utilized a descriptive qualitative method in order to examine teacher perceptions of the process of a classroom photo project (objective 1, photovoice) as a means to determine if school-learned behaviours are reaching the home. Data generation involved analyzing researcher field notes and conducting follow-up teacher interviews (n=3). Through latent content analysis, three themes emerged which highlighted the strengths, weaknesses, and future directions of using the photovoice project in the classroom. Overall, the photovoice project appeared to be a feasible and valuable way for teachers to understand how school-learned behaviours translate home. Knowledge translation and exchange (KTE) was achieved using a variety of techniques, including the creation of photobooks and parent newsletters, presentations to the students about the findings, one-on-one meetings with the teachers, presentations at academic conferences, and in the future, publication of manuscripts. The findings of this research demonstrated the importance of fostering student leadership and decisional ownership in order to empower students to create, sustain, and drive changes in health behaviours within the home. As such, leadership should be considered a foundational element in the CSH framework. Further, health education teachers in all school settings could strive to foster student leadership and decisional ownership in order to ensure healthy lifestyle behaviours are adopted and sustained. Additionally, this research highlighted the capacity within children to promote HEAL and drive behaviour changes amongst their family members. Finally, the use of a novel photovoice project resulted in a means of exploring and strengthening the collaboration between the school and the home using solely student insight and involvement. This method can be used by teachers in a variety of settings to better understand and meet the diverse needs of students in order to optimize overall success.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
Citation for previous publication
McKernan, C., Chahal, H., Gleddie, D., Montemurro, G., Veugelers, P., & Storey, K. (2016). Comprehensive school health and achieving change in the home environment: student insights from a photovoice project. Paper presented at the International Society of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Meeting, Cape Town, South Africa.

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