201427 Development of an interactive online Masters of Public Health in Nutrition degree program

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nancy L. Cohen, PhD, RD, LDN , Department of Nutrition, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA
Patricia Beffa-Negrini, PhD, RD, LD , Department of Nutrition, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA
Introduction: While advanced training in public health nutrition (PHN) can facilitate planning for services for an increasingly diverse and aging population, few opportunities exist for working PHN professionals to receive advanced degrees. The University of Massachusetts-Amherst thus developed a learner-centered, part-time, fully-online Masters of Public Health Nutrition Program (MPHNP) to help satisfy this need.

Program Design: The MPHNP was designed based on a decade of experience developing asynchronous interactive online programs, feedback from nutrition professionals, Council on Education for Public Health competencies, and the Quality Matters online course development rubric. Survey respondents from nutrition listservs indicated they were interested in furthering their careers and maintaining current employment while completing an advanced degree. Nutrition courses were developed using a rubric to guide the alignment of learner objectives with assessment, engagement, feedback and support. For interaction and collaboration, the MPHNP uses Blackboard Vista, Moodle, and Wimba Live Classroom. Students consider issues from their work and community in individual or group projects and case studies, while reflecting on achievement of PHN competencies using discussions and e-portfolios.

Results: Twelve nutrition and health professionals from across the US enrolled in the MPHNP in its first year. Course activities addressed obesity, fruit and vegetable consumption, cultural foods, food security, and current legislation. Initial course evaluations were positive. Respondents appreciated instructor feedback and peer interaction, and noted that the workload was demanding but rewarding.

Discussion: The MPHNP has attracted a national set of professionals in a highly interactive program geared to address PHN competencies in diverse communities.

Learning Objectives:
1. Participants will be able to describe the process for developing a fully online interactive MPH degree program. 2. Participants will be able to explain course development based on competencies and frameworks for quality and consistency. 3. Participants will be able to discuss applications to their own learning and teaching needs.

Keywords: Distance Learning, Public Health Curriculum

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My coauthor and I have developed and evaluated numerous online programs and courses for over 10 years. Some references: Beffa-Negrini, P., Cohen, N.L., Laus, M.J., and McLandsborough, L.A. Development and evaluation of an online, inquiry-based food safety education program for secondary teachers and their students. J. Food Science Education, volume 6:66-71, 2007. Beffa-Negrini, P.A., Cohen, N.L., and Miller, B.L. Strategies to motivate students in online learning environments. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 34:334-340, 2002. Beffa-Negrini, P.A., Miller, B., and Cohen, N.L. Factors related to success and satisfaction in online learning. Academic Exchange Quarterly 6 (3):105-114, 2002. Miller, B.L., Cohen, N.L., Beffa-Negrini, P. Factors for success in online and face-to-face instruction. Academic Exchange Quarterly 5(4):4-10, 2001.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

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.