April 2013…The Healthy NewsWorks program boosts students’ confidence and competence, according to new survey data from the 2011-2012 school year. The multi-pronged assessment of students, teachers, and administrators said the impact of the program extends to include interpersonal skills, health awareness, and personal self-worth.
To measure students’ comprehension of journalistic concepts, Healthy NewsWorks administered pre- and post-tests in the fall and in the spring. The test results showed that a majority of students improved their understanding of key reporting practices, including: source attribution, fact checking, quoting and paraphrasing, crafting a news story, and meeting deadlines.
In an open-ended survey, when asked to describe the program’s influence on their lives, students cited personal as well as professional growth. Of the 39 students surveyed, 79 percent said that their reporting experience improved their writing skills. Nearly two-thirds of students discussed the importance of crediting sources to avoid plagiarism. The survey also generated responses highlighting the program’s contributions to their self-esteem as well as the overall value of a health newspaper to the school.
Teachers, principals, and volunteers also weighed in on the program through a series of interviews. Echoing many of the benefits noted by students, adults credited the program with increasing students’ self-confidence, educating readers about important health issues, and providing a reading enrichment resource for instruction.
—By Beth Hodge, Healthy NewsWorks volunteer