Title of the Project: Professional Writing in the Field of Public Health
Name: GinaMarie Piane, Dr.P.H.
Department: Allied Health Professions
Date of full-time appt. at NIU: August 16, 1989
Present Rank: Assistant Professor
Courses to be affected by project (Dept./Number/Title): AHPH 350: Elements of Environmental Health, AHPH 445: Community Health Promotion, AHPH 455, Public Health Epidemiology, AHPH 460: Principles of the Organization of Public Health Programs, AHPH 483: Community Health Research and Evaluation, AHPH 485: Principles of Health Planning

Estimated annual enrollment in above listed classes: 50-100 students

Objectives of the Project: (Phase I)
Project Goal: To improve the writing preparation of undergraduate students majoring in Community Health and Health Administration.

Objective one: The writing needs of professionals working in the field of Public Health will be assessed by a written survey of 25 Public Health employers. The employers will be asked to give the frequency of various types of writing that is expected of their employees. The categories will include but not be limited to, grant proposals, business letters, memos, patient education materials, press releases, reports, meeting minutes, etc. The employers will also be asked to determine the relative importance of each type of professional writing in their work setting. Finally, the employers will be asked to evaluate the level of writing ability of recent graduates of the NIU Public and Community Health Program.

Evaluation: A survey of writing requirements for entry-level public health professionals was developed and mailed July 24, 1995 (Appendix 1). The mailing list consisted of 51 employers of recent Community Health graduates. This sample included all respondents to an assessment survey conducted in 1994. An "underwhelming" 14 surveys were returned after the mailing and follow-up telephone calls. The results are compiled in Table 1.

Objective two: Writing assignments in the core courses for a Bachelor of Science with a major in General Community Health or Health Administration will be assessed by surveying the instructors regarding the frequency, category, and grading procedures of writing assignments in each course.

Evaluation: Rather than surveying the instructors, the project director reviewed syllabi from all required courses for writing assignments. The list and description of writing assignments were then verified by instructors who have taught each course. The results are compiled in table 2. Grading procedures varied with most instructors assessing each required item of the writing assignment separately and mathematically forming a total grade. Few assignments were graded in a holistic manner. Few assignments were graded using grading worksheets.

Objective three: The writing needs determined by the Public Health employers and the writing assignments in the Community Health core courses will be compared. An assessment of the needs of undergraduate students for writing instruction and assignments will be presented to the faculty of the Public and Community Health Program.

Evaluation: The results of objectives one and two were presented to the Public Health Faculty during a faculty meeting October 10, 1995. The faculty agreed that written assignments of short length that correspond with the written work of working public health professionals would be incorporated into their courses. Examples of suggested assignments include: Business memos and letters, reports, and procedures.

I found this project to be enlightening. While I felt that written assignment should be shorter and more practical, this survey gave me evidence to use in convincing the other professors. Their response was very positive. They appreciated the work I had done and were very willing to incorporate changes into their teaching.