Public Health Education: Teaching Epidemiology in High School Classrooms.
Epidemiology instruction has expanded at the undergraduate level in part because it increases student critical thinking and scientific literacy, promotes students' perception of public health as both practical and relevant, and empowers students as independent, lifelong learners. Why then are more high schools not adopting epidemiology as a course requirement for students? Although prior iterations of high school epidemiology courses are noteworthy for incorporating active and participatory learning, embedding them into existing and continually shifting curricula is challenging and time-consuming, especially for teachers not trained in the field. It also may be argued that currently available epidemiology teaching resources emphasize content rather than thinking skills and therefore do not optimally promote students' personal engagement with, and in-depth understanding of, the mission and goals of public health. I propose a new framework for high school epidemiology that draws from progressive education ideology, including three critical elements: empowerment, authenticity, and transfer. I provide multiple examples to show how this framework has been used across a wide array of settings to hone epidemiology thinking skills in high school students.
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