This curriculum was developed in collaboration with faculty from U.S. planning and public health schools, based on their experience teaching built environment and public health courses. The semester outline and modules provide a mix of foundational knowledge and significant learning opportunities for students to engage this interdisciplinary course material.
Creation of this curriculum and the modules is informed by the course design strategy of L. Dee Fink, a leader in course design who argues that traditional, content-based methods of teaching are insufficient because they focus on information, not transformation, and on teaching rather than learning. He proposes an integration of situational factors, learning goals, teaching and learning activities, and feedback and assessment to promote significant and interactive learning, and training of self-directed learners.
Fink’s strategy integrates content-centered approaches with learning-centered approaches, where students engage in critical thinking, application of course knowledge to solve real-world problems, and thoughtful reflection. Fink’s approach also stresses the importance of contextual or situational factors, such as the difficulty of teaching students with varied levels of experience and knowledge. With Fink’s strategy, situational factors are addressed directly in the learning goals and activities.
Feedback and assessment procedures respond directly to the learning goals, and active learning or collaborative activities that help build skills faculty want students to have at the end of the semester. Such activities may include students developing design characteristics for a built environment that acts to decrease the prevalence of a chronic disease, or conducting a case study that applies methodologies from various disciplines to a place-based health problem. Assessment focuses on various characteristics of high quality contributions; students are also involved in assessing and determining appropriate criteria for evaluating their work, preparing to do so once they begin working in the field.
Course learning objectives were developed to follow Fink’s learning taxonomy that includes the following dimensions:
- foundational knowledge: understanding and remembering information and ideas
- application: developing skills; thinking critically, practically, and creatively; and managing projects
- human dimension: learning about oneself and others
- caring: developing new feelings, interests, and values
- learning-how-to-learn: improving learning skills
- integration: connecting ideas, people, and realms of life