PHPH-101: Introduction to Public Health

Pete Walton, MD

Dr. Pete Walton's involvement with i2a has led to his intentional infusion of critical thinking concepts throughout his Introduction to Public Health course. "Demonstrate and apply basic principles for critical thinking," is one of two goals of the course, as articulated in Walton's syllabus. In addition to other assignments, Walton's explicit use of Paul-Elder critical thinking concepts, specifically the Intellectual Standards, is salient in his systematic, innovative use of rubrics, five-minute summaries, and the SEE-I method.

Five-Minute Summaries

As one method to evaluate his students, Dr. Walton requires each student complete a five-minute summary" [PDF] at the conclusion of each class meeting. Students are given five minutes to write a summary response to the question, "What is the most important point about public health you learned in today's class?" This assignment encourages students to reflect on the significant content of that day's class session, as well as their own understanding and application of those concepts, and then pinpoint the most significant item to take away from the lecture. Five-minute summaries are performed at the end of every class and evaluated using a rubric [PDF] focusing on the Intellectual Standards of clarity, relevance and significance. Walton says the five-minute summary exercise promotes recall and reinforces important learning skills around memory and meaning-making. "The behavior I want them to practice is writing clearly about a point learned in class that is relevant and significant," says Walton. "If a student learns to be clear, relevant, and significant in short writing exercises, there is a good chance this will generalize to other aspects of their learning."

Using the SEE-I method is a wonderful way to explore a concept like healthy equity, and the students spend a lot of time developing high-performing teams over the course of a semester.

— Dr. Pete Walton


An additional technique Walton practices in engaging students and evaluating their thinking is the SEE-I method [PDF]. Walton has divided his Introduction to Public Health course into five modules. For each module, students work in teams to explore an assigned concept using the SEE-I method. Both a written explanation and a verbal and visual presentation are required as deliverables. These items are then evaluated on the Intellectual Standards of clarity, accuracy, significance and logic using a rubric [PDF]. "The SEE-I activity is a great way to practice four essential cognitive attributes of an educated person, each of which requires a very different mindset: concept explication (S), concept expansion (first E), concept extension (second E), and analogical creativity (I)," says Walton. "Team SEE-Is add the dimensions of cooperation, collaboration, and constructive competition among multiple brains, all of which demonstrate to students that teaching and learning is actually a team sport."


The majority of the assignments addressed in Dr. Walton's syllabus are accompanied by a rubric(s) he uses for evaluation of that task. "My rubrics don't focus on facts or information, but rather they address process and measure the students' thinking about the concepts and course content," Walton explains. He has used rubrics in past courses, but in this course in particular his rubrics are adapted for specific use of the intellectual standards. To view Walton's rubrics, reference his full syllabus below.

Take a look at Dr. Walton's full syllabus [PDF].

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