Development and Assessment of Signature Assignments to Increase Student Engagement in Undergraduate Public Health

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According to some educationists, engaging disengaged students is one of the biggest challenges facing educators. While many higher education instructors may believe that they promote various areas of learning and engagement, in a recent Faculty Survey of Student Engagement faculty in the health professions reported that 39.5% of their class time is spent lecturing and only 21% is spent on experiential activities. At the same time, fewer than 20% of employers who participated in an Association of American Colleges & Universities–sponsored survey felt that most college students are prepared with the skills and knowledge needed to complete a significant applied learning project before graduation. With this in mind, faculty in an undergraduate public health program integrated engagement-based learning and teaching in the form of signature assignments into core courses throughout the 4-year curriculum to strengthen student engagement, foster deep learning, and address concerns expressed by employers. This article outlines the process used to develop the assignments, describes each of the signature assignments, discusses how assignments were assessed, and shares assessment results.

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