Developing, Implementing, and Evaluating a Latino Service Learning Project in an Accelerated MPH Community Health Course for Health Education Students

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Abstract

Service learning is a 21st-century pedagogy that can address critical health needs found in our communities, and it can provide opportunities for health education students to grow personally and professionally. Universities are increasingly offering service learning as a method to foster collaboration between campuses and partners, to meet community needs, and to prepare students to be engaged citizens capable of working in diverse communities. Health education preparation programs are recognizing the value of this beyond the classroom approach to learning and the opportunities it presents for students to develop professionalism. This article describes the development, implementation, and evaluation of a Latino Service Learning Project (SLP) in an accelerated, MPH community health course for health education students. As part of a SLP during a graduate community health course, students planned and implemented a health education project for a Latino community. Students partnered with a Latino health agency for a nationally sponsored health promotion event. Lessons learned and the benefits of service learning are presented. Students’ reflection papers were analyzed and served as the primary evaluation method to determine the effects of the SLP on them. Students reported that the SLP provided benefits to include improvements in cultural competence, growth in health education professional development skills, and personal growth such as an enhanced sense of civic responsibility. Understanding how to integrate service learning into a community health education course may help faculty adopt this teaching method.

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