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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 106, Issue 6, pp e442–e449 | Cite as

Training the next generation of global health advocates through experiential education: A mixed-methods case study evaluation

  • Steven J. Hoffman
  • Sarah L. Silverberg
Mixed Research

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: This case study evaluates a global health education experience aimed at training the next generation of global health advocates. Demand and interest in global health among Canadian students is well documented, despite the difficulty in integrating meaningful experiences into curricula.

METHODS: Global health advocacy was taught to 19 undergraduate students at McMaster University through an experiential education course, during which they developed a national advocacy campaign on global access to medicines. A quantitative survey and an analysis of social network dynamics were conducted, along with a qualitative analysis of written work and course evaluations. Data were interpreted through a thematic synthesis approach.

RESULTS: Themes were identified related to students’ learning outcomes, experience and class dynamics. The experiential education format helped students gain authentic, real-world experience in global health advocacy and leadership. The tangible implications for their course work was a key motivating factor. While experiential education is an effective tool for some learning outcomes, it is not suitable for all. As well, group dynamics and evaluation methods affect the learning environment.

CONCLUSION: Real-world global health issues, public health practice and advocacy approaches can be effectively taught through experiential education, alongside skills like communication and professionalism. Students developed a nuanced understanding of many strategies, challenges and barriers that exist in advocating for public health ideas. These experiences are potentially empowering and confidence-building despite the heavy time commitment they require. Attention should be given to how such experiences are designed, as course dynamics and grading structure significantly influence students’ experience.

Key Words

Experiential learning education global health health policy 

Mots Clés

apprentissage expérientiel éducation santé mondiale politique sanitaire 

Résumé

OBJECTIFS: Notre étude de cas porte sur une expérience d’éducation sanitaire mondiale qui vise à former la nouvelle génération de promoteurs de la santé mondiale. La demande et l’intérêt pour la santé mondiale chez les étudiants canadiens est bien attestée malgré la difficulté d’intégrer des expériences approfondies dans les programmes d’études.

Méthode: La promulgation de la santé mondiale a été enseignée à 19 étudiants de premier cycle de l’Université McMaster lors d’un cours expérientiel durant lequel les étudiants ont élaboré une campagne d’action sociale nationale sur l’accès aux médicaments dans le monde. Nous avons mené un sondage quantitatif et une analyse de la dynamique des réseaux sociaux, ainsi qu’une analyse qualitative des travaux écrits et des évaluations du cours. Les données ont été interprétées selon une démarche de synthèse thématique.

Résultats: Les thèmes que nous avons dégagés étaient liés aux résultats d’apprentissage des étudiants, à leur expérience et à la dynamique de groupe. La formule d’enseignement expérientiel a aidé les étudiants à acquérir une expérience authentique, réelle, de la promulgation de la santé mondiale et du leadership. Les conséquences tangibles sur leur parcours d’apprentissage étaient un grand facteur de motivation. Bien que l’enseignement expérientiel soit un outil efficace pour obtenir certains résultats d’apprentissage, il ne convient pas dans tous les cas. De plus, la dynamique de groupes et les méthodes d’évaluation ont un effet sur le climat d’apprentissage.

CONCLUSION: Les enjeux de santé mondiale, la pratique en santé publique et les démarches d’action sociale du monde réel peuvent être efficacement enseignés par l’apprentissage expérientiel, en plus de compétences comme la communication et le professionnalisme. Les étudiants ont acquis une compréhension nuancée d’un grand nombre de stratégies, de difficultés et d’obstacles présents lorsqu’on préconise des idées de santé publique. Ces expériences peuvent être valorisantes et donner de l’assurance, bien qu’elles demandent beaucoup de temps. Il faudrait porter attention à la conception de telles expériences, car la dynamique de groupe et le système de classement ont une influence considérable sur l’expérience vécue par les étudiants.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Global Strategy Lab, Faculty of LawUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Department of Global Health & Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthHarvard UniversityBostonCanada
  3. 3.Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics and McMaster Health ForumMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  4. 4.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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