Practice-Based Teaching and Public Health Training: Bringing Real-World Projects to the Classroom to Teach Intervention Planning and Communication Strategies

Jacey A. Greece, DSc, MPH, William DeJong, PhD, Jonina Gorenstein Schonfeld, JD, Ming Sun, MPH, MCHES, Donna McGrath, MS, EdM

Pedagogy in Health Promotion, March 2018


Master of Public Health (MPH) courses can strengthen competency-based education by having students work on real-world problems in collaboration with public health agencies. This article describes practice-based teaching (PBT) and illustrates its importance for coursework in intervention planning and health communications. With a PBT course, community agencies benefit by receiving high-quality deliverables at no cost, such as intervention plans, policy proposals, and communication strategies. For faculty, PBT results in potentially richer practice and scholarship opportunities, plus a deeper understanding of local public health issues and exposure to new topics. Importantly, PBT allows students to expand their professional networks, explore potential careers, obtain teamwork experience, and develop a broader set of professional skills. PBT in public health training is a pedagogy that has immense benefit to students, public health agencies, communities, and faculty, particularly in the areas of intervention planning and communication, which often require innovative solutions and thorough understanding of various modes of technology and social media to effectively address a public health problem. The example presented in this article demonstrates the immense utility of the pedagogy in public health. With the growing demand for skilled public health workers, PBT warrants more extensive application in schools of public health and specifically in courses focused on basic skills for developing and implementing programs and policies to address public health problems.

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