Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Debbie Humphries


Introduction: Students in their first and second year of their Master of Public Health (MPH) programs worked in teams to collaborate with and assist local community partners in developing solutions to problems immediately relevant to local community health organizations. The course’s unique emphasis on co-generation of knowledge between students and community partners aimed to develop students’ practical skills relevant to working in practice-based community public health agencies as well as enhance their research skills as community-engaged academics. This study aims to identify lessons learned and key elements of the course that were most impactful on students’ learning experiences.Methods: Students were required to submit essays reflecting on their experience in the course at the end of the semester. E-mail outreach to 212 students resulted in consents from 104 students. A rapid qualitative analysis approach with both deductive and inductive lenses was used for analysis. Results: Overall, students reported having had positive experiences in the course. Six major themes emerged: 1) turning theory into practice, 2) navigating the complex environment of public health practice, 3) skills learned, 4) personal reflections, 5) challenges, and 6) strengths. Conclusions: Analysis of student reflections may make visible the learning processes that evolve as students strengthen important research skills and explore their identity as public health professionals. Collaboration with community partners allowed students to gain a deeper understanding of health disparities in a way that cannot be conveyed through readings and discussions alone. Methods used in this study demonstrate how reflection can be used as a teaching tool and a method for generating research data.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access