Staying Healthy Through Education and Prevention (STEP)

Chapter 9: Curriculum Overview

Three seniors at a dining table


At the beginning of the STEP program, you will hold nine weekly behavior coaching sessions. For simplicity, we recommend that you hold these sessions in the same block of time as the exercise sessions. Each behavior coaching session has a lesson plan to assist you. This chapter provides a brief overview of these lesson plans.


After reading this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Understand the purpose and format of the nine behavior coaching sessions using the lesson plans provided.
  • Determine what materials you need to lead each coaching session.
  • Identify the handouts you will distribute to participants during each coaching session.


  • Behavior coaching session: Structured session designed to engage and motivate participants to change their exercise patterns.
  • Lesson plans: Written outlines of the material you will present during the behavior sessions.
  • Handouts: Each session has one or more handouts for participants to refer to during class and at home.
  • Take home challenges: Tasks or activities for the participants to take home and complete; designed to help reinforce class material and prepare for the next session.

Key Points

  • There are nine group coaching sessions (including the introductory session) during the first 9 weeks of the STEP program.
  • Hold the behavior coaching sessions during the same time block as the strength training exercises. When you have offered all nine behavior sessions, start the cycle over again and hold them outside of strength class for new people or those who might want a refresher.
  • It is important for program leaders to be familiar and comfortable with the material in each coaching session and to be fully prepared to conduct each session.

Purpose of Lesson Plans

Each of the nine behavior coaching sessions has a lesson plan. The purpose of each lesson plan is to provide the STEP program leader with the tools to run the coaching sessions successfully. This includes scripts, notes, handouts, and other important information for the participants. Following the scripts and notes contained in each lesson plan will help you cover the material in a way that maximizes the participants' experience and helps them achieve their short-term and long-term exercise goals.

Format of Lesson Plans

Each lesson plan follows the same format and consists of the following sections:

  • Introduction. An overview of what to expect in the coaching session.
  • Preparation. A list of activities that the STEP program leader should complete or review before the coaching session. You will also find a list of handouts to photocopy for each session.
  • Session Objectives. A list describing the goals of the specific coaching session.
  • Session Outline. An outline of the material you will find in the Session Content and Sample Scripts (see below).
  • Session Content and Sample Scripts. Instructions on how to discuss the session topics and sample scripts for leading the session. You can use the scripts as written or put them into your own words, as long as the main ideas remain the same. The sample scripts have a heading identifying them as sample scripts and should be easy to recognize.

Before each session, you should make sure that you are fully familiar with the topic and the materials for that session. Participants will appreciate your being confident and prepared. In addition, they will get more out of the session if everything runs smoothly and if you seem comfortable with the material you present.

Most sessions involve a review of topics discussed in the previous session, a period of active discussion and problem solving, and a handout or "take home challenge" that will be discussed at the next session. It is best if the same group leader facilitates the full 9 weeks for the same group of seniors; this approach will provide a "group memory" and the leader can tie together discussions from one session to another.

The nine behavior coaching sessions are:

  1. Introductory Session.
  2. Being an Effective Group Member and Motivation for Behavior Change.
  3. The Faces of Physical Limitation.
  4. Self-Awareness and Self-Monitoring.
  5. Examining Our Feelings: How We Think Can Affect How We Act.
  6. Thoughts and Feelings About Physical Activity.
  7. Barriers to Physical Activity and the Art of Problem Solving.
  8. The Value of Social Support and How To Create It.
  9. Review of Self-Monitoring and Setting Goals.
Page last reviewed October 2014
Page originally created February 2011
Internet Citation: Chapter 9: Curriculum Overview. Content last reviewed October 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.