148023 Teaching through the Use of Reflection in a Public Health Practicum Course

Wednesday, November 7, 2007: 8:50 AM

Barbara R. Gottlieb, MD, MPH , Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Reflection a key component of learning in service-learning and practice-based educational experiences. Consistent with adult learning theory, by reflecting, the learner engages in a continuous cycle linking observation, participation, reaction, formulation of hypotheses, and action. Reflection is an integral part of medical and nursing education. In addition to mastering clinical skills, clinicians must demonstrate attributes of professionalism and competency in an ever-expanding array of bio-psycho-social domains. Reflection is a tool for integrating knowledge, identifying personal growth needs, and setting a learning agenda. There are parallels for public health professionals. While quantitative and analytic skills are the hallmark of public health education, public health practice requires much more. Like their clinician counterparts, public health professionals must be keen observers, function in many contexts, be flexible, creative, adaptable, and committed to lifelong learning. Reflection can provide students with a tool to become the engaged learners that today's public health challenges demand. The practicum, the “culminating experience” for masters students, is an ideal opportunity to practice reflection. Students apply knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom to a public health setting that provides a rich array of experiences and challenges impossible to replicate in a classroom. Written assignments provide an opportunity to describe critical experiences, explore reactions, identify knowledge deficits, formulate testable hypotheses and identify action steps. Based on 3 cohorts of students, I will compare 3 types of required written assignments: progress reports (no guidelines), unstructured and structured reflection pieces, for their potential to complement the hands-on learning of the practicum experience.

Learning Objectives:
1. Participants will be able to articulate principles of adult learning theory and how they apply to learning through reflection. 2. Participants will recognize the value of reflection as a component of a practicum course compared with other formats for reporting progress. 3. Participants will be able to describe several strategies for developing a reflective component to a masters level public health practicum course.

Keywords: Service Learning, Public Health Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.