183580 Communication Skills- Risk & Learning in Action

Monday, October 27, 2008

Kelly A. Welsh, MS , Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Alexandra Loukas, PhD , Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Fred Peterson, PhD , Health Education, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Disturbing trends show youth turning to unreliable, destructive sources as models for relationships and many find themselves unable to handle the complexities of maturing relationships. Sexual behaviors are among the leading life risks associated with youth. Communication skills are an essential component of risk-related interventions. Interventions are usually evaluated with global outcome measures-few assess specific curricular components. Dynamic methods of instruction are always suggested, yet this pedagogical aspect is rarely investigated. Experiential learning theory describes an active experience that is deconstructed and then processed for meaning and action-usually in a group environment. It is well suited to the social/cognitive needs of youth as it facilitates movement of concrete experiences into more abstracted thoughts that affect future behaviors. The purpose of this mixed-methods pilot study was to examine whether experiential learning techniques work for teaching interpersonal communication skills to emerging adults.

Nineteen participants' attitudinal and behavioral confidence about communication skills were assessed prior to the intervention and 3 weeks following. The intervention was based on Riggio's(1986) assessment of social skills. Qualitative data regarding both methods and content were collected as well. The pre-post scale means differed indicating increases in awareness and confidence surrounding communication skills [t(13)= -2.126.43,p < .05]. Preliminary qualitative data analysis reveal most participants recalled key components of the curricula and had utilized the skills in their daily living at follow-up. Participants' assessments of the methods used were positive and supportive of experiential education as method of communication skills instruction.

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion, attendees will: 1) be well versed in theories related to experiential learning and risk-taking, 2) understand how this method of instruction can be effective for a diverse range of topics and 3) be able to apply some of the skills discussed to their own areas of instruction.

Keywords: Communication, Intervention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: This study was a pilot for my Ph.D. dissertation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.