151531 Assessing the impact of community-based learning among Drexel University master of public health students

Monday, November 5, 2007: 1:30 PM

Augusta M. Villanueva, PhD , School of Public Health, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
Mary E. Hovinga, PhD , School of Public Health, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
Jonathan L. Cass, MPH , School of Public Health, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
Background: Community-based learning (CBL) has gained increasing value in academic public health because of its potential to enhance students' personal and professional development. Assessing its impact on students' perspectives on learning, service, choice of major and collaboration with diverse communities not only informs educators about their performance and needs, but promotes inclusion of pedagogical frameworks for learning beyond traditional curricula. Methods: First- and second-year students completed a survey regarding their CBL. Responses were collected prior to initiating and completing required first-year practicum and second-year culminating community-based master's projects (CBMP), defined in collaboration with community-based agency partners. Combined, these activities totaled 600 hours of hands-on learning per student. Results: Students' self-report of their experiences indicates that the characteristics promoted through CBL include: 1) community awareness; 2) community involvement; 3) service commitment; 4) career development; 5) self-awareness; 6) understanding and application of academic content; 7) sensitivity to diversity; 8) sense of ownership; 9) communication; and 10) valuing of pedagogy of multiple teachers (peer, preceptor, community, faculty). Discussion: Assessment of student outcomes premised upon problem-based learning and service learning is likely to promote continuous disciplinary and cross-disciplinary training, combined with hands-on experiences. Through CBL students acquire disciplinary knowledge and skills, while enhancing oral and written communications including presentation to varied audiences. Real-world public health problems addressed through continuous and increasingly concentrated action can foster team-building and depth of experience while preparing students to master ever more complex tasks. Findings derived from this research will inform future CBL and other MPH curriculum components.

Learning Objectives:
1) Define the rationale for applying problem-based learning pedagogy and service-learning theory in the context of academic public health education; 2) Identify goals and objectives of CBL premised upon problem-based learning pedagogy and service learning theory in the context of public health practice; 3) Describe the conditions that enhance implementation of CBL in graduate public health education including a description of essential student characteristics and attributes as well as environmental conditions; and 4) Discuss the potential for replication and enhancement of the described CBL model within and across graduate public health education programs in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Keywords: Public Health Curriculum, 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.