Editor’s Note: Over the next several weeks, Destination HealthEU will be featuring pieces from students from the Center for the Study of Human Health. This piece is an introduction to four student essays about their experiences participating in Health 1,2,3’s classroom to community 4th level component. This program, as described below, aligns real-world interactions with academic learning outcomes in order to enrich student learning with authentic engagement.

Header image by Simon Berry

Health 1,2,3 is an empirically-driven academic health program housed in Center for Study of Human Health (CSHH) that aims to educate, engage, empower, and encourage students to develop and sustain healthy lifestyle behaviors starting their freshman year. Students who complete the series of three courses experience discovery and exploration of health while developing a unique array of personal and professional skills including but not limited to presenting, facilitating discussions and applying active learning techniques.  In support of the CSHH mission of fostering engaging, innovative scholarship that enables students to apply knowledge acquired in the classroom, the Health 1,2,3 program took the classroom to the community by piloting a 4th-level experiential learning arm for the program during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Recognizing the essential role of experiential education in undergraduate education, the 4th-level component bridges the gap between academic learning and practical professional skills gained in the Health 1,2,3 program. For post-collegiate success, students need to not only be able to recall information learned in the classroom but also understand how to apply it within a broader complex context. This model takes students who have completed the Health 1,2,3 program directly into the community under the mentorship of the Health 1,2,3 faculty team and 4th level partners to broaden student knowledge and translate their positive leadership, critical thinking, problem solving and decision-making skills into real world applications.

Health Emory logo featuring concentric half circles of green and teal leaves that circle around the beginning of the phrase "Healthy Emory"
Health Emory logo

In the fall of 2018, the Health 1,2,3 program formed a new partnership with Healthy Emory, the university’s program focused on improving employee health and wellness through initiatives like Know Your Numbers, a biometric screening offered to employees every other year, to establish one of its first 4th level classroom-to-community experiences. Students served as Student Health Partners (SHPs) to provide one-on-one post-biometric screening health coaching to Emory employees. The objectives of the coaching sessions were to ensure employees understood their biometric screening results—such as their blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI—assist employees in determining next steps regarding lifestyle changes, and increase employees’ awareness of the Healthy Emory resources available. According to feedback survey results, a majority of participants were very satisfied, intended to implement what they learned to improve their health, and would recommend the coaching sessions to fellow employees. It is this perceived impact that the students found most fulfilling.

The students also appreciated the direct application of knowledge learned in the Health 1,2,3 curriculum and felt that this experience solidified concepts they had learned. They also felt this to be a real-world experience that will help them stand out in the future.

According student Katie Brousseau, “It’s an experience that is unlike something that you could get inside of the college. Like I think that it was more real world – I can’t think of a better way to say that. But it’s something that is closer to what I actually see myself doing in the future.”

A second partnership established in fall of 2018 was with Graduation Generation (GradGen),a high school dropout prevention initiative housed in Emory’s Center for Civic and Community Engagement. GradGen is responsible for creating placements, for professors and centers such as CSHH, who are interested in implementing community engaged/service-learning components with K-12 student populations as a part of their curriculum. Through this collaborative initiative, GradGen and Health 1,2,3 mobilized resources to meet the need for quality health education in local public schools. King Middle School stakeholders indicated persistent health-related misperceptions, indicating a lack of personal health knowledge, skills and health- enhancing practices among King Middle School students.

Image from above of a group of about 60 students in black graduation robes with their hats in the air. They are standing on grey stone floor.
Photo by Poodar Chu on Unsplash

Recognizing the unique skill set of students who complete the Health 1,2,3 program, program faculty sat down with Graduation Generation (GradGen) to plan a series of community engaged learning workshops. Four participating Emory students designed and implemented health lessons that addressed positive mental health, stress, time and energy management, and character strengths for twenty-four middle school students. Lessons were developed in alignment with Georgia Health Standards and will be left at the school for continued use. Emory students involved in the collaborative efforts shared,

Sujith Swarna shared that he “is hoping to be a physician, so having practice listening to people and understanding as much as you can about their overall life is a good skill to have now that will help me in the future.”

“It was fulfilling to have the opportunity to engage with a different age group. There were challenges I hadn’t expected, but it was interesting to try different methods to maintain engagement with the students.”

King Middle School students shared a similar sentiment of shared learning, indicating high-levels of agreement towards applying what they learned from the Emory students towards improving their own health.

Logo for Emory's Center for Civic and Community Engagement. On the left is the Emory seal and the words "Emory University". On the right are the words "Center for Civic and Community Engagement".

The feedback from partners and students evidence the success of the 4th level pilot. The students’ reflections on the critical role of experiential learning has in retaining theoretical concepts, accelerating learning, and putting academic knowledge into use solidifies the power of this model for undergraduate students. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we will feature four blog posts from students who write about their personal reflections on their time in the 4th level opportunities.

Next academic year, the Health 1,2,3 team and their partners aim to build upon this success by increasing student involvement in the 4th level component and revising content and processes in order to continue to meet both partner and student needs.  

To learn more about the Health 1,2,3 program or how to get involved with the 4th level experience, e-mail Health 1,2,3 Program Director, Lisa DuPree at madupre@emory.edu

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