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The Impact of Content-Specific Professional Development on Sex Educators’ Confidence Levels

Neely, Madeline S. (2023) The Impact of Content-Specific Professional Development on Sex Educators’ Confidence Levels. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The Pennsylvania Department of Education does not require a specific number of hours a school must provide their students of Health content. While some schools choose to teach sex education, it is not required. Anonymous School District (ASD) provides a single unit of sex education in grades 7 and 8, but various stakeholders decide what makes it into the curriculum as there are no required standards to follow. The problem of practice I seek to address is that students at ASD do not receive comprehensive, evidence-based, standards-driven Health and sex education. The three inquiry questions that guided my dissertation in practice (DiP) were: 1.) How committed are HPED teachers to creating and implementing change in the Health curriculum to best meet students’ needs; 2.) What are HPED teachers’ experience and perceptions regarding the professional development (PD) opportunities offered by the ASD to support their professional growth?; 3.) How confident are HPED teachers’ teaching sex education and using available resources?; The change idea focused on content-specific PD for teachers in the HPED department at the ASD. Participants included six, Kindergarten-12th grade HPED teachers and measures included a semi-structured interview and survey. The survey included 35 questions that determined teachers’ perceptions of their current department support, quality of curriculum, PD trainings, and support needed to improve the quality of the curriculum in the future. The semi-structured interview gauged two high school health teachers’ opinions regarding sex education and their feedback on the PD training focused on the Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT) from the Centers for Disease Control. Survey data was summarized with descriptive statistics in Excel. Interview transcripts were coded using content analysis. This inquiry project revealed most participants feel there are improvements that should be made to the curriculum, and future PD could be beneficial to the department. Most participants agreed the PD sessions positively impacted their confidence levels related to planning and teaching sex education. In conclusion, additional support in the form of clear expectations from administrators, regular content-specific PD, and yearly opportunities to review standards and codes relevant to HPED content will positively impact teachers and students.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Neely, Madeline S.madeline1286@yahoo.comMsn190009-0001-3959-8914
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairRoss, Sharonseross@pitt.eduseross
Committee MemberRainey,
Committee MemberLorenzi,
Date: 7 June 2023
Defense Date: 16 May 2023
Approval Date: 7 July 2023
Submission Date: 7 June 2023
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 102
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Health and Physical Activity
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sex Education, Education, Sexuality, Content Specific, Professional Development, Teacher Preparedness, Educator Confidence levels
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2023 15:44
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2023 15:44


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