By Ahna Suleiman, DrPH | November 19, 2014
Every sex educator I know has stories about young people who’ve challenged their faith in our ability to change adolescent sexual behavior. For me, one of those stories is about a ninth grader named Rose.
By Louise Ann Lyon, PhD | November 11, 2014
Everywhere we turn, articles warn of the imminent loss of U.S. preeminence in science, technology, engineering and math fields. How frustrating, then, that computer science has actually experienced a slow decrease in the percentage of female undergraduates over the past 20 years. This trend cannot serve the field, the nation or our future. We need to diversify tech education if we wish to take advantage of our abundant local talent.
By Laura Perkins, MLS | November 5, 2014
My social media content strategy colleagues and I attended a great webinar yesterday: “50 Blogging Best Practices for Nonprofits.”
What I found especially striking in her presentation was the evolution of thinking about how to make a blog or website appealing enough and accessible enough to attract and hold people’s attention.
By Suzanne Schrag | October 24, 2014
I sometimes joke that I am a Luddite. The phone I use still flips open. I do not have a data plan. I inherited my husband’s old phone when he went over to the dark side, and was quite excited to finally have a QWERTY keyboard option. Friending me on Facebook offers little beyond practice in dealing with abandonment and not taking it personally. And my tendency to forget to charge my phone or to turn it back on after silencing it at a play or movie is a constant source of frustration to my nonvirtual friends.
At the same time, I am fascinated and even thrilled by the avenues for creativity, discovery and learning the Internet provides. For example, through random videos on the web, I have been able to hear amazing singers and musicians, been touched by social projects working to make a difference, gotten a sense of what it’s like to sail through the Alps wearing a wingsuit, witnessed feats of physical daring and emotional caring, learned how to make a killer plum jam, and developed a healthy respect for the honey badger.
By Karin Coyle, PhD
ETR's research team is testing some exciting new programs that ask middle and high school students to consider the ways romantic relationships influence their sexual choices and risks. We call this “contextualizing” sexual and reproductive health education—that is, using the context of relationships to build health-promoting information, attitudes and behaviors.
By Eloy Ortiz, MURP | August 15, 2014
Research Associate, ETR
ETR’s Science Department has conducted many longitudinal studies, on topics ranging from health behaviors to computer science interests. We’ve usually surveyed students in class or online, and often our biggest challenge is just getting a consent form signed and returned by the parents. Once we have consent, we work with the students, gather and analyze data, and write up the results.
The Math Pathways project is different because it involves gathering detailed information from mothers and students, as well as teachers. The goal of the study is to gather information that can be used to increase mathematics achievement among Latino students. We needed to meet individually with both the mother and the student outside of class. This created some challenges that helped us learn a lot more about the lives of these students and their families.
Leslie Kantor, MPH
If you work in sexual and reproductive health, you know that the world today is different from the world of only a few years ago. Changes in social media and the digital environment affect norms, risks and behaviors among young people. I’m Vice President of Education for Planned Parenthood, and our organization has some promising new tools that combine what’s known about effective sex education with what young people like to do online. They provide a model that can be helpful across a range of health issues.
By Jessica Colvin, MSW, MPH, PPSC
When you were in high school did you ever wish you had a safe place to get support? I’m lucky enough to work in a program that allows students to do just that. The Wellness Program helps students access services to support their emotional and physical health, and feel empowered to use those services when they need them. And not just while they’re in school, but beyond school and into their adult lives.
By Matt McDowell
Quick: what do you think when you hear the words, “We really need to market that health program.” Or how about, “We could sure use some cutting-edge business tools to make this health program stronger.”
If you’re like a lot of people I’ve met in the worlds of public health, health care and nonprofits, you may be recoiling in horror—or at least shaking your head. Here’s what people often tell me about marketing and business tools.
By Yethzell Diaz | April 17, 2014
First, let me be clear about something. I am not a techie. At all. The first time I interacted with a computer was probably in seventh grade. Technology stuff was completely foreign to me. My family and friends didn’t know about it. And there wasn’t someone we could turn to for guidance.
I did, however, become a student at University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), majoring in sociology, and at one point I desperately needed to get into a popular class. A hundred students were competing for ten open spots. How was I going to swing it?
By Jay M. Bernhardt, PhD, MPH | March 25, 2014
There's a revolution in the ways people communicate and it’s affecting every one of us. You’re participating in it right now by reading an article onscreen that probably came to you through email or a web search, rather than reading a printed product that arrived in a paper envelope. The use of new media has transformed our personal lives and the way we work, and it’s also changing the work of state and local health departments.
Communication is a critical foundation of the work that health departments perform every day. To be effective, they need to talk with and listen to their diverse communities and partners in order to engage their constituents on important health issues.
Traditional, or “old media,” still plays an important role in the work of most health departments. They may use press releases, news conferences, interviews, reports, posters and mailings to disseminate their information to various target audiences. But most departments also see that “new media,” including online and mobile resources and social networks, has become an essential part of effective public health.
By Anne Freiwald, MPH | March 18, 2014
I recently found myself at the 40th birthday party of a male friend. At the end of the evening, I was the only woman at the table, listening to male friends discuss online dating, sexual activities and preferences. They were comparing notes on how to meet new partners, including the use of some cool new dating apps. Most of these men were newly divorced or separated, and it was what some might call a racy conversation—each wanting to outdo the other.
The conversation was rich with the sorts of questions, assumptions and perceptions researchers like me get lost in. I was listening for themes and thinking about areas where I needed to gather additional information.
My inner researcher sat up and started asking myself questions. “What do STD rates look like among men in this age cohort?” “How likely is condom use in this population?” “How would they know if had a STD?” “Where would they get checked? Would they get checked?”
By Joseph A. Dake, PhD, MPH, FASHA | March 10, 2014
I recently went to a lecture by Salman Khan of Khan Academy to hear him talk about his vision of a “One World Schoolhouse.” I was familiar with Khan Academy—my sixth-grade son is using it to learn Java programming—but I was skeptical of this push toward online education.
I’d heard recently that some middle and high schools were considering the development of 100% online options to satisfy their health education requirements. As a faculty member who teaches future health educators, and as a person married to a national-award-winning high school health teacher, I saw many problems with this. I wanted to learn more about Khan’s approach and the way he sees the future of education.
By Debra Christopher, MSM | February 26, 2014
I was recently on a business trip in New York City. While roaming the city one evening after dinner, I passed by a street vendor who was selling small canvas bags with colorful messages stamped on the sides. One message caught my eye, and it’s turned into a new mantra for my professional development work. The message: “Make it brief . . . and work it!”
This statement relates directly to what the science of learning tells us about how the human brain functions—specifically, how human memory systems operate. We know the human brain holds information in short-term memory for only about 18 seconds. If that information isn’t attached to something quite meaningful, or if there’s no time to organize the information and process its relevance, it leaves the brain as quickly as it entered. Without some type of emotional hook or cognitive engagement, the content simply cannot stick.
By Deb Levine, MA, & Jamia Wilson, MA | February 20, 2014
We are the president and executive director of YTH (Youth+Tech+Health), an organization committed to advancing the health of youth and young adults through technology, and we’ve got a pitch for you: if you work with young people, you can improve effectiveness by sharing leadership with them.
We mean sharing leadership in a substantive way—giving over the reins for a good part of the journey. Sound impractical, or impossible, or scary? It’s not. You can take that leap.
At YTH, we’ve recently implemented a model of intergenerational leadership ourselves. We fully expect this new leadership structure to expand our opportunities, build our potential, and shape the direction of our organization into the future.
By Elizabeth Schroeder, EdD, MSW | January 22, 2014
I’m the executive director for Answer, a national organization dedicated to providing and promoting unfettered access to sexuality education for young people and the adults who teach them.
There is so much misunderstanding today about what sexuality education is. Most people tend to think it only has to do with preventing pregnancy and infections. But when we refer to “sexuality education,” we’re talking far more holistically. This enables us to promote overall sexual health and education, while also ensuring that young people know how to prevent an unintended pregnancy and STDs.
We believe strongly that sexuality education should start early, meaning it should be basic at younger ages and build in complexity as a young person grows. It’s an egregious mistake when lessons on sexuality—whether at home or in school—don’t begin until the teen years.
By Pamela Anderson, PhD | January 15, 2014
Those of us at ETR who work in the area of sexual and reproductive health agree that healthy sexual development is an issue of human rights, and that coercion-free, violence-free relationships are essential to healthy sexuality. For over 30 years, we’ve pursued research that helps us better understand what promotes sexual health, as well as what interferes with it.
In recent years, our research has led us to bring more emphasis to the context in which sexual risk behaviors may occur among youth, particularly with respect to the importance of romantic relationships.
By Amy Peterson, MSc | January 9, 2014
Late last year, several ETR colleagues and I presented at the Healthy Teen Network’s annual conference in Savannah, Georgia. The theme was “Embracing Innovation: Combining Science with Creativity to Improve Adolescent Health.” About 30 participants joined ETR staffer Bruce Weiss and me as we discussed strategies for addressing unintended pregnancy and STIs among young people through the dual use of long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) and condoms.
By Lisa Unti, MPH | November 20, 2013
Have you ever wondered if the work you do makes a difference? Beyond the paperwork and meetings, the mandates and requirements… What does making a difference look like?
Many of us have multiple roles as parents, mentors and health and education professionals. My own perspective as a mother and researcher working in the field of sexual and reproductive health and evaluation for over 20 years informs and shapes my work. The intersection of these multiple roles gives all of us extraordinary opportunities to make a difference. Here’s one that came to me recently.
By B.A. Laris, MPH | November 13, 2013
How often have you wished you had a good quote or interesting comment to help make a point in a report or proposal? Have you ever needed to test materials for comprehension or readability? Do you want to understand people’s reactions to your programs or services?
Focus groups are a great way to gather in-depth descriptive data that can illustrate nuances of opinions in a way surveys can’t … but is the data real?