taking intro to public health hybrid

H100 is Introduction to Public Health in our college.  Traditionally, it was taught to undergraduates in our two public health degree programs.  A couple of years ago, it became required for them, raising the census to about 200 in the classroom.  With accreditation of our college in public health, however, all undergrads in our college will be taking H100, regardless of major.  Two effects with major implications: 1) this is now 900 students/year, so we will be going to multiple sections/terms, and 2) at least half the students in any given term will not be public health majors, so content will have to go beyond “traditional” public health topics to keep students engaged (while maintaining a public health approach).   The majors in our college are diverse, including public health, exercise science, nutrition–you get the idea.

So, we have thought that one way to try to manage the balance between material that crosses all majors (the fundamentals of a public health approach) and material that could be made major-specific (cases, discussions, homework) would be for the in-person sessions to focus on the former, and the online portion focus on the latter.  The in-person sessions would take advantage of the strengths of that setting to create common ground, while the online sessions would make the material relevant to the specific interests of students.

So, one in person session might focus on social and behavioral determinants of health in general, and how public health approaches the intersection of behavior, social norms, and environment.  Following that class, students would have parallel work to do online, but it would be major-specific.  For instance, a case and associated homework or discussion might be modified for specific topic/major areas.  For example, the public health majors might have a case focused on needle sharing, while the exercise science majors have a case centered on physical activity in schools, and the nutrition-oriented folks a case on menu labeling and menu choices.  Same competencies and concepts, different application.

A major challenge, and therefore opportunity, is to develop the online content.  Because the content areas are fairly different, I will need to consult extensively with content experts–even though my own work involves diet and physical activity, for instance, I do not consider myself expert in either topic.

This seems like a relatively straightforward way to break up the content, yet keep the in-person and online stuff connected.



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2 Responses to taking intro to public health hybrid

  1. Cub Kahn says:

    I admire your approach to serving such a diverse group of students in a large-enrollment course. To take it a step further–and I’m sure you’ve already thought about this–we might consider how the online activities you’ve described can also serve content-wise as an entree into the face-to-face meetings. Admittedly it can be difficult to choreograph, but ideally the integration of the online and classroom learning environments works in both directions.

    • bovbjerv says:

      Good point. I have admittedly been looking most closely at the in class > online transition, but of course it could go the other way. I’d be interested in folks’ experience with using the online functions to introduce in class material, particularly in large classes.

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