Corina Weir, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition

MSc students in Public Health and Global Health, rightly eager to learn about real world applications, reported that the diverse range of psychological behaviour change theories used throughout the course were complex and difficult to translate into practice. Psychological theories are crucial to the design, implementation and evaluation of behaviour change interventions, therefore developing an effective teaching activities to promote student learning on this topic was crucial. Discussions on creative methods of teaching during participation on the Principles of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education course inspired me to develop a new approach.

Context

MSc students in Public Health and Global Health, rightly eager to learn about real world applications, reported that the diverse range of psychological behaviour change theories used throughout the course were complex and difficult to translate into practice. Psychological theories are crucial to the design, implementation and evaluation of behaviour change interventions, therefore developing an effective teaching activities to promote student learning on this topic was crucial. Discussions on creative methods of teaching during participation on the Principles of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education course inspired me to develop a new approach.

Activity

At the beginning of the course, students were split into groups and given a public health concern (for example, increasing rates of dental caries in children). Students applied concepts and theories discussed in teaching each week to tasks designed to mimic the behaviour change intervention development process. Tasks ranged from the initial development through to effective evaluation of behaviour change interventions. Feedback was given each week and the process was compared with published interventions to enable the students to critically reflect on intervention development. At the end of the course each group presented their intervention to the class.

Evaluation

Throughout the implementation of this activity, students were asked for informal feedback and expressed enthusiasm at this approach to consolidating learning. Students highlighted this component of the course favourable in SCEF forms and below are examples of feedback provided by students: "I liked that we had group discussions in every lecture and each designed a theory based intervention study using the knowledge gained from the lectures." "I enjoyed the behaviour change assignment." "The group task was helpful in applying theories to real life scenarios" "The best course I took during the semester. Brilliant teaching, interesting content and overall enjoyable course."

Impact

The aim is to continue with this class project next year and potentially use this problem based case study approach in other courses. We are planning to develop an online version of this course and intend to use the range of interactive components from myaberdeen to enable this type of activity online. Students are eager to learn and develop skills to bridge the gap between academia and practice, and our programme is committed to adopting interactive teaching activities to facilitate this.

Dissemination

Hopefully sharing this activity through a good practice case study is the first step in disseminating this problem based case study. However, we would like to undertake a small research project to assess learning and graduate attributes at the start of the course compared to the end of the course to identify if there are any differences through completing problem based case studies such as this.