H425: Foundations of Epidemiology, new and improved.

H425 is required for undergraduate public health majors and radiation health physics majors, among others.  Additionally, some students planning allied health careers (e.g., medical school, physical therapy school, etc.) take it as an elective.

EPIDEMIOLOGY (root:  epidemic) is the study of the distribution and determinants of health in human populations, and the application of that study to improve human health.  In other words, if we can figure out why these people get sick, but those people don’t, then that gives us a clue as to how future cases of the disease might be prevented.

H425 is currently set up as lecture/recitation.  All students (~150 per term) enroll in a 1-hour large lecture that happens on Mondays, and also for a 2-hour small group (n=25-30) recitation that occurs sometime later in the week. To no one’s surprise, students and instructors all quite like the small groups, and no one likes the big lecture. Room for improvement?  You bet.

To “hybridize” this class, we are moving lecture material online, and keeping the small groups essentially untouched.  Thus, beginning Winter 2018, students will be responsible for weekly online/self-taught material–the material that used to be covered in assigned readings and large lecture will now be delivered via variety of online methods (readings, videos, mini lectures, Canvas discussions, etc).  Students will be expected to complete each week’s online material by Monday night.

Then the small group in-person classes will continue as they have been–why fix something that isn’t broken?  In these small groups (taught by TAs; they meet T, W, or Th), students do a variety of activities to reinforce learning:

  1. practice problems (in small groups, and answers subsequently discussed as a whole class)
  2. article discussions (as a whole–with only 25-30 students, this has proven viable if TAs are willing to call on quieter students)
  3. other small group tasks followed by reporting back to the the larger group, with discussion (e.g., creating a questionnaire to measure X, during the week when we’re discussing measurement, or designing a study to determine the effect of Q on W, during the weeks when we discuss study design, etc)
  4. Q&A about that week’s lecture (going forward:  online material), if students are having trouble with a particular concept

Having taught this class now more than a dozen times, I believe that the hybrid environment will truly be the best of both worlds for H425.

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2 Responses to H425: Foundations of Epidemiology, new and improved.

  1. Kathy Hadley says:

    You mentioned that students will be expected to complete each week’s online material by Monday night. Do you intend to track that? If so, how? I would be interested in how this might be done.

  2. klotzan says:

    Sounds like a solid plan! Given the course topic, perhaps you could have our IT department develop a harmless virus that “infects” their computers as they make it through the readings for a given week, and then they have to do some online task to cure their computer. Then, you could calculate the epi curve (is that the right term?) of the spread and cure of the disease throughout the class.

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