New approach course for teaching the competencies and knowledge necessary for health promotion activities in an innovative way at the Károli Gáspár Református Egyetem

Schools play a pivotal role in developing and supporting children’s health. Based on international guidelines, school health education and promotion should provide teaching strategies and learning experiences that enable students to acquire health-supportive attitudes, health knowledge, and skills necessary to make health-enhancing decisions, achieve health literacy, establish health-improving behaviors, and promote the health of others. To achieve this, at the level of primary prevention, a methodology that includes interactive, game elements and affects emotions through experiential learning can be effectively applied, facilitating the desired behavior, increasing the target population’s involvement, internal motivation, and commitment to the topic. Game-based activities, lessons, and school programs based on personal experience typically operate with a self-directed nature, consequently, they can also enhance perceived self-efficacy and the degree of responsibility.

Our research group has developed a university elective course based on experiential pedagogical methodology, consisting of two interrelated modules, which offers an opportunity for future teachers to enrich their health and methodological knowledge and competencies and form their health-supporting attitude. The applied methods and tools of the course presented activities that can be effectively used during education and teaching, organically building on what has been theoretically learned during previous studies. We focused on transmitting knowledge, games, and methods that can be immediately applied in practice. The efficiency of learning based on personal experience and understanding was demonstrated through interactive tasks. The courses were announced for the students of the Teacher Training Faculty of Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church (KRE PK) in the fall and spring semesters of the 2022/2023 academic year. The course is 24 hours, which we blocked into 3×8 hours for the appropriate intensity in both semesters. 2-3 weeks passed between the occasions, allowing for a proper sedimentation of knowledge.

During the fall, within the framework of the Innovative Health Education I course, we focused on the development of competencies and skills – tuning in, connecting, attitude shaping, communication, stress management, cooperation, boundary management, and saying no – necessary for the development of health-supporting behavior forms, which are the basis of effective school work. During the lessons, we presented the importance of connection and tuning in motivation. We strived to develop the participants’ social competencies and self-knowledge while mastering the exercises, as these are also important for the well-being of future teachers. We are convinced that we cannot talk about this in students without the well-being of the teacher.

As an exit requirement, each student independently presented a game or practice of their choice that develops one of the social competencies, and then outlined its possibilities for school adaptation.

In the spring semester, during the Innovative Health Education II course, we enriched the students’ health knowledge by strengthening the preventive approach using innovative pedagogical methods (experiential education, cooperative work organization, gamification). We talked not only about domestic regulations but also looked at international expectations. The transfer of knowledge was realized in an innovative way, so participants experienced alternative ways of learning through their own experiences. Joint formulation and collection of school adaptation possibilities were emphasized.

As the course’s output requirement, students individually prepared an outline for a health promotion theme day or theme week, applying the learned aspects. In small groups, they created attention-grabbing, motivating videos about the dangers of a particular addiction, focusing on the right choice.

Student exam videos:


Danyi Anna, Szente Gréta, Fábián Aliz,  Kis Anna, Petróczi Dóra


Füzesi Gréta, Okos Glória, Bezák Viktória


Heuschmidt Liliána, Mózer Réka, Luncan Tímea Lilla, Zámbó Kyra

Digitális függőség

Vajda Kamilla, Mihalovits Anna, Sztancsik Bernadett, Balázs Kincső

Monitoring the Effectiveness of the Course

Through entrance and exit surveys, we explored the impact of the course on the students’ knowledge and thinking related to health. We consistently requested their feedback on how they were able to apply what they learned during their teaching practice.

Based on this, we can say: participants deemed this course as filling a gap due to its practical nature, it provided them with directly applicable theoretical and practical knowledge, and enriched their own personalities. By trying out what they learned in classroom work, they experienced improvements in their connections with the children and a reduction in stress situations and conflicts.

They recognized the complexity of health. By studying international regulations, they gained an understanding of what a change in approach means in health education.

They realized that as educators, it is paramount to take action for their own physical and mental health. This is very important for developing their own resilience and thus they can also become credible models for their students during school health education.

The courses will be announced again at the Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church (KRE PK) in the 2023/2024 academic year.

Positive reviews reinforce our plans to make it available to other institutions and to disseminate this training, created with modern content and an innovative approach, to a wider audience.