The Global Impact of A Germ’s Journey: Interactive Learning Resources and Behavioural Training to Improve Young Children’s Knowledge of Microorganisms and Handwashing Skills Worldwide

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2021-06-18

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Peer reviewed

Abstract

Interdisciplinary research between psychology, health sciences and education has resulted in the co-creation of ‘A Germ’s Journey’; a resource-based intervention comprising books, web games, videos and posters. The resources are utilised globally across Africa, Asia and Europe, with 3,540 books donated to schools, museum exhibits, community centres and refugee camps reaching 145,432 people thus far. Most recently, these resources have been developed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in line with WHO guidelines stating that handwashing is the most effective strategy for prevention of infection.

The A Germ’s Journey health-education intervention was developed to improve young children’s understanding of microorganism transfer and efficient handwashing techniques to tackle infection. This presentation outlines the findings from a collection of studies that evaluate whether specifically co-created resources (A Germ’s Journey) aid children’s understanding and practice, and teachers’ pedagogy of effective hand-hygiene in the UK and Low-and Middle-Income Countries.

Educational health-hygiene workshops were conducted with schools in the UK and in Sierra Leone and India in areas of considerable socio-economic disadvantage. Mixed-method data was collected from children using quasi-experimental methods, using pre-workshop questions, follow-up questions, observations and baseline and post-workshop assessments. Data was collected from teachers using questionnaires and focus groups.

Results from evaluative studies demonstrate that the use of A Germ’s Journey multi-component educational resources induce significant improvements in children’s knowledge of microorganisms and handwashing skills. For example: among one sample of UK schoolchildren, 20% more washed between their fingers one month after engaging with the learning resources, and 30% more linked handwashing to germs. The effect of the intervention also extends to reducing the cases of diarrhoea and vomiting related illness in India. Additionally teachers (100%) reported on the usefulness of the resources.

A Germ’s Journey resources enhance children’s understanding of handwashing, microorganism transfer and disease development, thereby improving handwashing behaviour in children in both the UK and Low-and-Middle-Income Countries, addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals for health (SDG3) and education (SDG4).

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Crosby, S., Younie, S., and Laird, K. (2021) The Global Impact of A Germ’s Journey: Interactive Learning Resources and Behavioural Training to Improve Young Children’s Knowledge of Microorganisms and Handwashing Skills Worldwide. Global Perspectives: Educational Leadership Conference [Online], 18 June 2021.

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Research Institute

Institute for Research in Criminology, Community, Education and Social Justice