Enhancing curriculum through service learning in the social determinants of health course

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Ronica Nicole Rooks
Christine Tagliaferri Rael


Service learning bridges classroom learning and community volunteerism and is anchored in the curriculum, classroom discussion, and community. We incorporated service learning projects (SLP) into three Social Determinants of Health courses (2008-2010) to promote: experiential learning; undergraduate scholarship; faculty career development through the scholarship of teaching and learning; and collaborative university-community research to reduce social inequalities in health. We examined whether SLP facilitated student learning of course concepts. We used mixed methods analyzing students’ (n=25) pre-/post-test surveys, research papers, and site supervisors’ (n=17) interviews. Despite positive survey ratings, results showed decreased student agreement about SLP facilitating student learning. Content analysis revealed specific student themes: finding SLP rewarding for future public health careers; aligning student interests with community-based organizations (CBOs)’ goals; and valuing interactive experiences with CBOs’ clients. Students gained beneficial career development skills with CBOs but needed better preparation for their SLP by increased discussion of their and CBOs’ expectations.


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How to Cite
Rooks, R. N., & Rael, C. T. (2013). Enhancing curriculum through service learning in the social determinants of health course. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 13(2), 84–100. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/josotl/article/view/3147
Author Biographies

Ronica Nicole Rooks, University of Colorado Denver

Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences

Assistant Professor

Christine Tagliaferri Rael, University of Colorado Denver

Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences

PhD Candidate


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