240544 Developing applied program evaluation competencies using a service learning field study

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 12:44 PM

Robert M. Weiler, PhD, MPH , Department of Health Education & Behavior, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Lisa Pealer, MHSE, PhD , College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Assessing community needs, developing and implementing effective policies and programs, and evaluating program outcomes are among the core competencies in public health. Yet providing opportunities for students to apply skills associated with the core competencies in graduate and undergraduate training programs is often challenging. This presentation will describe how students in a graduate-level program evaluation course applied knowledge and skills to a real-time public health and safety issue at the University of Florida [UF]. In response to three scooter fatalities of UF students within 18 months, risk and protective behaviors among scooter operators was identified as the focus for the service-learning field study. The course provided students an opportunity to identify project partners; develop a study design, a field observation checklist and a self-administered survey, and a data collection protocol; conduct a pilot test, train data collectors; collect, manage, and analyze data; generate and present the findings; and mange the logistics of the study. Execution of the service learning field study required IRB-human subjects approval and students were required to complete the NIH online training program, “Protecting Human Research Participants”. The presentation will discuss how the study's logistics were managed within the context of course administration, the students' evaluation of the project, and the lessons learned. Field experience should be a cornerstone of training graduate students for careers in public health. In addition to the core public health competencies, these experiences increase student appreciation of and respect for team diversity and provide opportunity to foster partnerships in the community.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Explain the importance of field exercises in training students for careers in public health. Identify the characteristics of suitable problems that can be addressed in an applied program evaluation exercise. Describe the logistical challenges of designing training exercises for students enrolled in a semester long program evaluation course. Examine teacher-student roles in applied field exercises. Identify potential issues associated with service-learning field exercises.

Keywords: Problem Based Learning, Professional Training

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a full professor in the Department of Health Education & Behavior at the University of Florida where I have taught program planning and evaluation to undergraduate and graduate students for many years. Moreover, I have served as a program evaluator for numerous community and public health agencies.
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.