HEAL: BCC (Health Education and Adult Literacy: Breast and Cervical Cancer)

This is a comprehensive 12-lesson curricula designed for intermediate to advanced ABE and ESOL classes, although it can be adapted for lower or higher levels as well.

HEAL: BCC Project Team at World Education, Inc.
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
World Education, Inc.
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Target Audience

This is a comprehensive 12-lesson curricula designed for intermediate to advanced ABE and ESOL classes, although it can be adapted for lower or higher levels as well. The main goals are to:

  • improve students’ ability to discuss and think critically about how they stay healthy
  • improve their knowledge of breast and cervical cancer, including early detection and screening; and
  • improve their preventive health behaviors (such as going for mammograms and pap tests) and ability to share information with their community.

The educational approach is participatory, with each unit addressing self-reflection, sharing of information, and critical thinking and problem solving skills. There are also several teacher support resources on the website, which help to guide teachers in addressing sensitive topics in their classrooms.

Benefits and Uses

Why this resource may be of value to the field of adult education and its potential use. Most significant or useful features, etc.

This resource provides well-balanced, effective lessons for ABE/GED and high level ESOL learners on a controversial but important health topic. While the curriculum is over 10 years old, the content is still highly relevant for today’s adult learners. Its balance of literacy, language, and health content, with its critical thinking and participatory learning components, could serve as a framework for others who wish to develop health literacy curricula for these learning levels. While the central topics of breast and cervical cancer appear to be more for female students, most of the content is actually highly relevant to males as well. There is content about preventive care and cancer awareness in general which could be used as stand-alone activities or lessons if a class is interested but doesn’t have time or need for the whole curriculum.

This curriculum was pilot tested and evaluated with a controlled, quasi-experimental design employing quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis. The experimental group who were taught with this curriculum showed significant improvement in their content knowledge, their reported screenings for mammograms and/or pap tests (depending on their age), and their reports of sharing the information with friends and family. You can see the article describing that study at this link: Using research to inform health and literacy program development: Results from HEAL:BCC Evaluation Study

The curriculum and its approach follow core tenets of adult learning theory and instructional design, including Adult Learning Theory (Knowles), Critical pedagogy (Freire), Participatory Approach (Auerbach), and Health Belief Model (Strecher & Rosenstock)

The Health Belief Model is used in the public health field and seeks to explain and predict people’s health behavior (e.g., response to risk, use of preventive measures, self-efficacy in health matters). Its concepts are used in designing health education messages. The presentation and exploration of health information in this resource is based in HBM principles in that it factors in individual health beliefs, anxiety around accessing care and discussing cancer, and other psychosocial barriers and challenges to preventing the disease.

The HEAL:BCC Web site is designed to support teachers using the HEAL:BCC Curriculum, and to introduce others to breast and cervical cancer education materials for adults with limited literacy skills. This site also includes articles from educators with experience teaching about breast and cervical cancer in adult basic education (ABE ) and English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) classes. These resources will inspire you and give you courage to explore health content in the classroom or community. Supported by World Education and the CDC, the resources stored here provide teaching curriculum and materials for those working with adult learners in both the literacy and health center. The curriculum pages and units are designed with the learner in mind; that is, vocabulary is well defined and is supported by visuals. In some cases, sound is used as well. The teacher support materials are thorough and have the credibility of being designed by teachers of adult basic education students. The resources (e.g., BCC Work List, Passport to Health, Journal pages) can be used outside of or in addition to the curriculum and activities.

Useful features, in addition to the lessons themselves, include:

  • Easy web navigation and easy-to-follow format.
  • Culmination of the learning in teaching learners to educate their peers about cancer screening and prevention. This empowers the learners AND spreads the health education beyond the classroom into the community.
  • Hands-on Beads for Life activity, and in general the variety of learning modalities in the curriculum.
  • Student products included in curricula to bring learning to life: Photonovela and personal stories of living through cancer.
  • Teachers’ reports on how they approached and implemented education on cancer in their classrooms.

Note: There are some outdated links, but usually the resource can be found in other places. For example, the links are broken in Unit One and in other places where the student or teacher is invited to click on Heal-BCC Word List and Passport to Health; however, these documents are available at the links from the Home page or Student Materials page.

The link to the Health & Literacy Special Collection from the Teacher Support page should be: www.healthliteracy.worlded.org

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