MPH Core Curriculum Design and Evaluation

MPH Core Curriculum Design and Evaluation

Academic Year:
2017 - 2018 (June 1, 2017 through May 31, 2018)
Funding Requested:
Project Dates:
Overview of the Project:
The University of Michigan School of Public Health (SPH) requests a Faculty Development Fund award to help support design and evaluation of a new core curriculum for Master of Public Health (MPH) degree programs, which enroll an annual cohort of approximately 300 students. The timing for curriculum redesign is prompted by changes to accreditation requirements released by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) in 2016, which represent a significant departure from previous mandates. Under the new requirements, all MPH students must complete courses that address and assess a standard set of learning objectives and competencies put forth by CEPH, in addition to requirements for individual degree concentrations, to ensure a strong foundation in public health knowledge and skills.

SPH seeks to develop a cohesive set of 8 core courses to launch in the 2018-2019 academic year using innovative teaching methods and curriculum design that result in positive student learning outcomes, program satisfaction, and readiness for the public health workforce. The interdisciplinary core curriculum will engage expertise from SPH’s six academic departments to collectively address the CEPH-defined learning objectives and competencies. Building on SPH’s current partnership with CRLT in this effort, this proposal requests additional services from CRLT, along with assistance from a graduate student, to support curriculum development, learner assessment plans, and program evaluation. A solid instructional design focus during curriculum design will help ensure high-quality graduate education with built-in mechanisms for continuous quality improvement for years to come.
Final Report Fields
Project Objectives:
  1. Convene stakeholders – particularly course instructors – in three retreats to ensure content alignment with accreditation requirements and cohesiveness across core courses
  2. Design learner assessments that are aligned with the required competencies, are graded with rubrics, and that incorporate authentic application of skills where feasible
  3. Evaluate the curriculum’s design and implementation
Project Achievements:

This Faculty Development Fund project supported several key activities that contributed to the larger curriculum re-design effort as a whole. CRLT and SPH Instructional Design Services staff co-led four retreats for the core curriculum faculty in January - April 2018. These retreats focused on moving faculty strategically through the early parts of the course design process. The first oriented faculty to the expectations and timeline, and provided an opportunity to discuss shared goals. The second focused on thinking through assessment activities and the third on developing learning activities. The fourth session was led internally by the SPH and honed in on the logistics of course production, especially for courses pursuing a flipped classroom model with more video or online components. Funds from this project also enabled us to hire a Graduate Student Assistant for the Winter 2018 term. This student contributed to the curation of health communications examples for one of the core courses, drafted content for a training on interprofessional practice to address one of the core competencies, and assisted with compiling examples of evaluation metrics, among other activities. The faculty retreats and the support of the student worker were critical to kick-starting the curriculum design, implementation, and evaluation processes that have been iteratively revisited in the time since.

How many students were impacted by this project?
Graduate students: 274 MPH students entering in Fall 2018, and all subsequent cohorts of MPH students

How many courses were impacted by this project?
Eight new core courses were part of the curriculum piloted in Fall 2018. 

The process of continuous quality improvement for the MPH core curriculum is ongoing. A number of stakeholders provide input on and recommendations for ways in which faculty can enhance their courses. Stakeholders include but are not limited to students, the Council on Education for Public Health, the SPH Public Health Student Assembly, the SPH Advisory Committee on Academic Programs, the SPH Instructional Services staff, and the SPH online MPH program team. Faculty learn from each other’s experiences with the core curriculum, and also reflect on their own teaching experiences each semester. Since the pilot and based on feedback received, for example, material from a 1-credit course on qualitative methods has been incorporated into other core courses, making room for a new 1-credit course on leadership and interprofessional practice.
The new core curriculum was documented in the school’s self-study report submitted to the Council on Education for Public Health in the fall of 2019. Information about the core curriculum is also currently available on the school’s website.
Advice to your Colleagues:
Having expertise from CRLT to guide faculty in the course development stage was essential. The project needed to be completed on a tight timeline so getting buy-in from all parties and communicating milestones and successes along the way was important.