The Health Education Teacher Instructional Competency Framework: A Conceptual Guide for Quality Instruction in School Health

J Sch Health. 2021 Oct;91(10):774-787. doi: 10.1111/josh.13076.


Background: Teacher instructional competency, the set of essential knowledge and skills needed to guide teaching practice, is critical to the successful implementation of school health education. The purpose of this paper is to introduce the Health Education Teacher Instructional Competency (HETIC) framework, a new conceptualization describing teacher characteristics, essential knowledge, and essential skills, which can influence instructional practice and improve student learning outcomes in health education.

Methods: Data from 17 publicly available guidance documents, professional standards, published reports, and empirical studies relevant to the fields of public education, school health education, and sexual health education were abstracted and analyzed using qualitative thematic content analysis.

Results: The framework describes 3 domains: personal characteristics, essential knowledge, and essential skills, which are believed to contribute to teachers' instructional competencies in delivering health education. The knowledge domain asserts 5 key categories, while the essential skills domain includes 3 categories (learning environments, content and delivery, and collaboration and learning) and contains 11 unique skills. Collectively, these domains are influenced by the learner, school/community, and policy-level factors that shape health education curriculum and instruction.

Conclusions: The HETIC framework presents a conceptual roadmap to guide quality health education preparation, job-embedded training, and delivery. Improving teachers' instructional competencies strengthens learning and prosocial environments that are inclusive, responsive, and affirming of students' health and learning needs. Teacher who demonstrate instructional competency can help students to achieve desired education and health outcomes, specifically acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to adapt, practice, and maintain healthy behaviors throughout their lifetime.

Keywords: health education; instructional competency; professional teaching standards; school health; sexual health education; teaching practice.

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Schools
  • Sex Education
  • Teacher Training*
  • Teaching