Health-related App Analysis Assignment through the Lens of Behavior Change Theories

People often look for new sources of health-related information, which are often aimed at behavior change. As you probably know, apps (i.e., applications) are software that can run on mobile devices. With increasing smartphone ownership, many users actively seek health information and app developers have responded by producing thousands of health-related apps. Nearly all smartphone users have a health-related app installed on their phone. This blog posting centers on a college assignment I have used with public health majors in a course called “Introduction to Health Education” (HLTH 301) at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. This past semester I converted this assignment into a completely online screen-capture presentation assignment.  The assignment directions, grading rubric and student samples are provided. Practitioners teaching behavior change theory or technology integration into health education may find this topic useful. Moreover, anyone who uses a health-related app via their smartphone or other mobile device might critique these apps more closely through the lens of a behavior change theory as this assignment describes.

Note: Students in this course have previously taken HLTH 103: Health and Behavior Change. More information on health behavior change theories can be found here.

Overview:

For this assignment, you will be required to team up with classmates (groups of 3 students) to analyze a health/fitness-related app submitted as a 3-5 minute screen-capture presentation MP4 video file that will eventually be publically posted to Dr. Jenny’s YouTube channel (unless someone in the group does not want it posted).

Directions:

  1. You will choose your own group of 3 students and health/fitness app to-be-analyzed for this assignment.
  • On your mobile device (e.g., smartphone, tablet, etc.), locate the Health & Fitness APP category. You will see hundreds of health-related apps, ~1/3 of which are free.
  • For this assignment, choose an app which focuses on only one health-related category like exercise, nutrition, sleep, mental health, weight loss, etc. AND has at least a 3-star rating.
  • Download the app. NOTE: You may need to pay for this app, but you can choose to analyze a free app.
  • Run the app noting the use of text-based information, diagrams, video demonstrations, record keeping, reminders, etc. It is recommended you take screenshots while you do this so you can incorporate them into the presentation.
  • You will be analyzing the app through the lens of an individual Behavior Change Theory (Ch. 4 of textbook).
    • Examples: Health Belief Model (HBM), Transtheoretical Model of Change (TMC), Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), etc.
  • When you believe you have identified a portion of the app that illustrates the inclusion of a particular Behavior Change theoretical construct, make a screen shot of that image.
    • For example, let’s say you want to analyze your app using the Social Cognitive Theory (SCT).
    • The first 2 slides of your presentation should show the “homepage” of the app you selected as well as a table of contents.
    • Ex. Your app has a video clip of a personal trainer demonstrating how to perform a certain exercise and you believe this clip is indicative of the self-efficacy construct of SCT. Pause the clip and take a screenshot of this image and add this to your presentation. 
    • Later on, add text beneath the slide defining self-efficacy and why you think this screenshot illustrates self-efficacy.
  • Identify additional constructs of the chosen Behavior Change Theory in your app and take screenshots of these, remembering to add explanatory text later within the slide.
  • You will be submitting your Health & Fitness Application Analysis in a 2-3 minute VIDEO, most likely using PowerPoint with audio narration. This may be about 8-12 slides total.
  1. Include at least one Healthy People 2030 objectivethat relates to your chosen app.  For example, regarding the Healthy People 2030 objectives, under the Physical Activity category you might choose PA-01 “Reduce the proportion of adults who do no physical activity in their free time.”
  1. Also, include your thoughts on how this app could be strengthened to incorporate even more constructs from the Behavior Change Theory you chose.

Text submitted with MP4 video file:

Your MP4 video file will also be accompanied by bulleted text describing how your video impacts at least 2 constructs from one of the behavior change theories or models examined in this course. See below within grading.

Working with Your Group:

  • #1 – be creative!!!  Don’t be boring!  Think outside of the box about a health behavior change topic (HP 2030 objective) that you and your group is passionate about.
  • Obviously, you can complete this group assignment using such things as Email, cell phone, and/or internet videoconference with Zoom (more info below).  This is great practice working “remotely” in a professional environment!

Required Equipment:

  • PowerPoint narration or Software to create a screen capture video
  • Microphone to capture your audio narration.
  • Webcam (not required, but you can include inset video of you talking if you’d like).

Software Options to Create your Video:

  1. PowerPoint Video (with audio narration):
    1. PowerPoint Video Tutorial Video
  2. In PowerPoint, click FileHelpMicrosoft Office Help – (click the “ ?” in the top right of the screen) – search “Record your slide show in PowerPoint”.  This will give you step-by-step directions on how to add audio narration to your PowerPoint Presentation.  Then search for “Save your presentation as a video.”
  3. Remember – this must be saved as a MP4 video and must have voice narration of at least one group member speaking!
  4. Edit your presentation so that it lasts no longer than 5 minutes.

**Be sure to include AUDIO voice narration!  Almost all laptops and tablets have a built-in microphone, while desktop computers may require an external microphone.

  • Zoom
  • If doing your video as a recorded group conference call, you can use Zoom. The host of the call will do a screen share and record the video.
  • You can also simply use Zoom to plan your video via conference call with your group.
  • Sign in with your normal SRU log-in information at: http://sru.zoom.us
  • Click SCHEDULE A MEETING
  • Enter a title, pick a time and day for your call (make sure you know if your classmate is in a different time zone)
  • After making your selections, click save.
  • In the next screen, click “Copy the Invitation” and email it to your group mates.
  • When it’s time for the call, sign in at http://sru.zoom.us, go to the Meetings tab on the left, and click START next to the meeting time.
  • Be sure to start and stop recording at the appropriate times.
  • Do a PRACTICE video and make sure the audio is being collected prior to doing your FINAL lesson.
  • Zoom Tutorial
  • Zoom Video Tutorial

Grading:

Note: Not fulfilling your obligation for assisting your group may result in your receiving reduced or zero points for this assignment.

CategoryGrading CriteriaScoring (out of 2 per component)
Accompanying Text Submitted with Video File (use bulleted sub-heading)Group Members: First and Last Name of each group memberName of Health-Related App: full official name of appWebsite of App: URL of app or where it can be downloadedBrief Video Description: 1-3 sentencesTarget Behavior Change: list target behavior changeHealthy People 2030 Objective: full objective copied from HP 2030 website, including objective category and numberHealth Behavior Theory: list target theory or model used (can be any in Ch. 4 of text or from HLTH 103)Dr. Jenny YouTube: include with your submission one of the following 2 sentences (ASK ALL GROUP MEMBERS THEIR WISHES):All group members give permission to publically post this video to Dr. Jenny’s YouTube channel.All group members DO NOT give permission to publically post this video to Dr. Jenny’s YouTube channel.   
Required ContentsIncluded the following in Video Presentation:Clear Description of App (including cost, purpose, what devices it works with, etc.)Clear and relevant Screenshots of App (including table of contents, purpose, relevance to chosen behavior change theory, etc.)Relevant Healthy People 2020 Objective included Clear Description and understanding of chosen Behavior Change TheoryClear connections between all screenshots and the constructs for Behavior Change Theory/Model usedClear description of how the App could be Improved/ Strengthened 
Accuracy & Theory/Model Relation to Video Content– Accompanying text submitted with video is an accurate description of chosen theory/model constructs – A clear, accurate link is described between the video and theory/model constructs in submitted text. – Any facts within the video were accurate and referenced in APA style. 
Preparation & Pedagogy, Professionalism– The students were well-prepared regarding video content (not reading notes). – Video was creative, well-organized, and grabbed attention. – Video consistently impacted multiple senses (vision, sound, etc.) – Students exhibited professionalism (language, dress, behavior, etc.). – Excellent grammar, spelling, and punctuation included. 
Video Submission– Video was between 3-5 minutes (max). – Video was submitted as an MP4 video file. 
TOTAL (out of 10): 

Assignment Submission:

  • ONE group member will submit the following 2 things in D2L:
  1. Text in the body of the submission (Start a New Thread – put in text box):
    1. Bulleted responses to the following (described above):
  2. Group Members:
  3. Name of Healthrelated App:
  4. App Website:
  5. Brief Video Description:
  6. Target Behavior Change:
  7. Healthy People 2030 Objective:
  8. Health Behavior Theory:
  9. Dr. Jenny YouTube:
  • .MP4 video file of the lesson  (Add Attachment – Upload):
  • Again, this should be uploaded as an .MP4 video file
  • Why? because .mp4 video files are compressed and the file sizes are smaller

Student Samples

Lose it! App Analysis through the Health Belief Model

by: Kaylee Angus, Danielle Blide, Grace Margita

Analysis of Apple Fitness+ App through the Health Belief Model

by: Kali Davies-Anderson, Kara Davis, Rebecca Linn

Yazio App Analysis (Theory of Planned Behavior)

by: Amber Sgambati, Jennie Stiefel, Haley Wilkinson

Note: Click on the video description to view the text submitted with the video by the students.

Dr. Seth Jenny is an assistant professor within the Department of Exercise and Rehabilitative Sciences at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. When he’s not teaching or conducting technology-related research, he is the president and volunteer club coach for elementary cross country and track and field athletes with a non-profit organization he founded – the Grove City Athletics Club. Dr. Jenny is also the lead author of the Human Kinetics book:“Technology for Physical Educators, Health Educators, & Coaches”.

This microblog post was a featured post in #slowchathealth’s #microblogmonth event. You can search for all of the featured posts here. Please do follow each of the outstanding contributors on social media (including Dr. Seth Jenny, the author of this post) and consider writing a microblog post of your own to be shared with the global audience of slowchathealth.com

Pair this post with the following:

Student Video Samples from Online Health Education, Physical Education, and Sport Coaching Courses by Dr. Seth Jenny

Virtual Reality in Health Class by Kimberly Hieftje

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