Planning and presenting student programs is a fun process.
Here we pose some questions and ideas for you to consider along the way!
1. What is the intention of your
- Is it to cause behavior change among students?
does the literature say about programming to change behavior on this topic?
What are the best practices and/or evidence-based practices?
- Is it to increase awareness?
techniques will be best to do so?
- Is it to provide information about services?
this as a marketing opportunity!
- Is it to provide education?
the program interactive and situated in the learners’ own experiences!
The programs we use at Wellness Services are developed to fulfill these different purposes. Check out the programs
available in the Health
Programming Guide and contact Wellness for more information.
2. Who is your audience?
- In preparing a program, be sure to think about
the size of your group, the group make-up, your goals and the goals of your
audience, and any special considerations or accommodations that might need to
be made. Thinking about these factors will allow you to modify your program and
set it up to be successful.
What makes educational programs on
health behaviors effective?
- In the field of public health, effective health
education programs are based on theories of behavior change, evidence in the
literature of what works, and best practices. One health behavior theory that
is particularly useful is the Transtheoretical Model that focuses on the
individual’s stages of change.1 Essentially, this theory suggests that individuals move through five stages of
readiness for change and that information should be provided somewhat
differently to account for the stage of the given audience.1 Depending on your audience and experience with a health topic, this may or may
not be something you can do, but keeping in mind that there are different
levels of awareness, experience, and readiness for change will enhance your
Outline for a typical student program
yourself and any other co-facilitators. Welcome the group to the program and explain
the objectives and agenda.
health topic in the Health Programming Guide has a brief activity that could
be used as an ice breaker, but you can find an endless amount of icebreakers
online if you search for day camp activities. Just be sure to pick one that is
appropriate for the age range of your group and for the program’s topic.
your program consists of a presentation, a discussion, and/or activities, it is
important to set up some ground rules so that all participants can have an
enjoyable experience. See the Guidelines
for Effective Programming for a more thorough description of some suggested
is where you do what you’ve been planning! Keep your intention in mind – what
types of attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, or knowledge are you trying to change?
Question & Answer time
participants what they have learned. What information was new or even
surprising to them? What will they do with that information? What would they
still like to know more about?
you are unable to answer a question, feel free to contact Wellness or direct the
student to do so themselves. We’re here to help!
and Information Distribution
out any handouts or resources you want participants to take home.
participants an evaluation and tell them how they can return them to you. It’s
best to let this process be anonymous – try placing a box in the hall or using
the Student Voice survey online.
What makes a presentation effective?
- Is it
the program allow the learner to reflect on personal relevance and their
individual thoughts and opinions regarding the subject matter?
- Does it
draw on the learner’s own experience?
is their own expert. Does the program utilize group expertise?
when you don’t have the answers. Feel free to contact Wellness for additional
information and encourage students to do the same!
- Is it
of the size of the group, is there an opportunity for everyone to be involved?
types of media can you use to enhance your effectiveness? PowerPoint is not
- Have you
established a comfortable environment, physically and emotionally?
introductions and icebreakers
the activities you will be doing and their objectives
up group guidelines/agreements
- Does the
program allow for and appreciate the diversity of the group, culturally and
and respect community norms and differing perceptions and preferences among
your audience. Don’t assume what you want to do will fit this community. Also
examine your own assumptions about the community you’re working with ahead of
provide an exit – participants should only do what they feel comfortable with
(it’s okay to ask students to talk about somewhat uncomfortable topics, but
participants each set their own boundaries).
confidentiality. This should be one of the group guidelines/agreements that all
sure the group uses respectful, non-judgmental language. Remember that
different people in the group will have different levels of experience.
- Does the
program fill an immediate need?
it represent the interests and concerns of the group?
was the topic chosen? Did you talk to your residents about their interests?
- Where is
opportunity did you provide for the group to apply the skills they have
to teach the way we learn. Provide information and allow participants the
chance to practice the information. Monitor their practice and provide
6. Logistics of
Whether your event is large or small, there are a few
logistical considerations you will need to think about when planning your
program. Some or all of the following might be applicable to your program,
depending on what you’re doing.
- Space – where will you hold your program? How
big of a space do you need for your audience?
- Utility support needed – do you need to borrow
any tech materials, like a projector and laptop? Does the space you’re using
already have them? Do you know how to
- Do you need to coordinate with anyone else?
Guest speakers? Co-facilitators? If working with others, be sure to communicate
throughout the planning process and confirm plans the day before the event.
- Publicity – how will you let people know you are
holding an event? Base publicity efforts on the population you’re seeking. If
you have an established mode of communication as an RA with your residents,
that might be a good place to start. You could also make a bulletin board to
advertise the program.
- Emergency plans
- Transportation – If your event is in your
residence hall, this might not be an issue. Just think about your audience!
- Public services – if necessary, would police or
firefighters have access to your space?
- Evaluation - think of how you will measure the
event’s success. For example, one measureable objective could be attendance.
- Tip: Be flexible! Also remember to thank your
participants for coming.
Programming Guide offers a variety of presentations and activities for you
to consider using as part of your program. Feel free to contact Wellness if you have any questions! Good luck!
1. Dimeff, L. A., Baer, J. S., Kivlahan, D. R.,
& Marlatt, G. A. (1999). Brief
Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students: A harm reduction
approach. New York: The Guilford Press.