COH announces eight new interdisciplinary education projects

by Michelle Saport  |   

The College of Health has funded eight interdisciplinary education projects. In early October, the college solicited faculty to submit creative and innovative proposals to advance the college's interdisciplinary mission. A peer review committee evaluated all the proposals and then made funding recommendations to the dean.

The funded efforts span the range of disciplines and departments within the college:

Collaboration at the Anchorage Pioneer Home
First-year occupational therapy students will be paired with baccalaureate nursing students, all of whom share a clinical placement at the Anchorage Pioneer Home (APH). The students will meet with residents at APH and observe each other's approach. At a common debriefing meeting, students will share their disciplinary perspectives and goals from their respective care plans.

Encouraging father involvement
Digital stories will be developed to encourage father involvement during the birth and early years of children's lives. The digital stories will then be incorporated into a free class for new fathers offered through Providence Alaska's Maternity Center. This collaboration between the public health and early childhood education programs supports the College of Health's mission by promoting the health and well-being of fathers, infants and children in Alaska.

Partnership between nursing and English faculty
Faculty from nursing and English will team up to help graduate nursing students transition from the world of academic writing to confident scholarly writing. VoiceThread, a media aggregator that allows students and faculty to post voice and visual media, will be used for idea generation and peer feedback.

Linked courses for more feedback
Another project also focused on student writing is a collaboration between the Human Services Department and the College Preparatory & Development Studies Department. In this effort, two courses will be linked through coordinated lesson planning. Each instructor will learn from the other's approach to teaching content and techniques. For students, the benefit will be exposure to new content and consistent feedback on writing.

Nursing simulation offers framework for mentorship and development
Advanced nursing students will be matched with underprepared first-year students participating in the Smart Start program. Smart Start is a learning community for students who placed at the remedial levels in both English and math. In this collaboration, Smart Start students will participate in a nursing simulation scenario as actors and observers. The nursing students will benefit from enhanced realism in the simulation and also have the chance to serve as teachers, mentors and role models. The Smart Start students' feedback on the simulation experience will encourage self-reflection and help motivate educational advancement.

Experimental course to increase interdisciplinary understanding
A group consisting of faculty from the Departments of Human Services, Social Work and Counseling & Special Education was formed to develop and offer an experimental course designed to increase interdisciplinary understanding, appreciation and collaboration. The differences among helping disciplines' historical contexts, philosophical/professional identities and professional responsibilities will be presented through a lens of shared values, ethical responsibilities and contributions to communities

"Critical Behavioral Health Issues in Alaska" course
Another group of faculty will develop a course titled "Critical Behavioral Health Issues in Alaska." This course is designed to offer students an overview of serious social problems in Alaska: domestic violence, sexual assault, substance abuse and suicide. Through an interdisciplinary lens, students will learn about evidence-based practices and Alaska resources for addressing these issues. Five different units are involved in developing and presenting this course: Center for Human Development, the Department of Psychology, the Justice Center and the School of Social Work and the Department of Health Sciences.

"Introduction to Health Occupations" course
A 100-level "Introduction to Health Occupations" course will provide students who are considering health programs at UAA exposure to various health careers, as an opportunity to explore their career aspirations and discover their aptitude and abilities for a variety of health occupations. The course, coordinated by the School of Allied Health will utilize healthcare professionals from within the College of Health faculty, as well as the community. The goal is to assist students in making an informed choice in their professional and educational pathways.

The College of Health has appropriated over $25,000 for these mini-grants, although no single undertaking exceeds $5,000. As a requirement of the award, faculty members will be making a public presentation regarding the design, implementation and outcome of the project.

For further information, contact Randy Magen, Ph.D., associate dean for curriculum, at (907) 786-6901 or

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