Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Education


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Associate Professor Andrew Tatggart


The aim of this study was to develop a post compulsory, alcohol education curriculum that would be perceived as relevant by students and acceptable to teachers. The study had its conceptual basis in harm minimisation that has considerable justification in terms of what school-based alcohol education can realistically achieve. A harm minimisation approach is supported by parental attitudes, teachers, young people and government policy. To ensure the curriculum was developed in the Western Australian education context it has been linked to the Western Australian Curriculum Framework and adheres to the principles that underpin the framework. Furthermore, this study draws on the features from evaluated health, alcohol and other drug education programs that have the potential to produce some behaviour change. Accordingly, a major focus of the study was to involve young people in the development of the curriculum. To ensure that the curriculum was sensitive to the concerns of the students it sought to influence, twelve focus groups were conducted with year twelve Western Australian students. These focus groups provided invaluable information about young people's alcohol use experiences, alcohol-related harms that are of particular concern to young people, harm reduction strategies used by young people and educational approaches likely to be effective with young people. These insights were incorporated into the development of the curriculum, ensuring it has a basis in situations experienced by young people. Particular attention was also paid to the needs of teachers, involving current health education teachers and health professionals in the development of the content and teaching strategies In addition, teachers who pilot tested the curriculum were trained prior to implementation of the curriculum, The training, based on interactive modelling of activities, was designed to equip teachers with the knowledge, skills and confidence to teach the curriculum as written, and to document any variation so that fidelity of implementation could be assessed. The curriculum was piloted in three Perth high schools in fourth term of 1999. A triangulation of measures was adopted to assess the curriculum including teacher and student assessment and an evaluation workshop. The process evaluation data from both students and teachers indicated that the curriculum was faithfully implemented and consequently evaluated as relevant by the students who participated in the pilot and acceptable by the teachers who taught it. The apparent success of the curriculum in terms of relevance to students and acceptability to teachers appears to be due to the collaborative process used to develop the curriculum. This process may be replicated, adapted, or added to, by other researchers and educators wishing to develop health education curriculum materials that will be viewed as relevant by students and acceptable by teachers while incorporating an evidence-based approach.