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Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2014 Mar;19(1):129-42. doi: 10.1007/s10459-013-9446-8. Epub 2013 Feb 2.

A research-based narrative assignment for global health education.

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  • 1Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Lethbridge, 4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, AB, Canada,


There is a paucity of research on novel approaches to classroom-based global health education despite the growing popularity of this topic in health professional curricula. The purpose of the following paper is to (1) describe the rationale underlying the use of a research-based narrative assignment for global health education, and (2) describe the results from an evaluation of this assignment with undergraduate public health students, including its strengths and limitations. The research-based narrative assignment was implemented during an introductory global health course for third and fourth year undergraduate public health students. The students (n = 20) completed the assignment and then wrote a two-page reflection about their experience. The author analyzed these student reflections using open coding and thematic analysis. Four salient themes were identified from the written reflections including (1) the challenge of representing persons, (2) the opportunity to develop an engaged understanding of the chosen issue, (3) seeing the bigger picture or integrating the various determinants into a coherence story, and finally (4) the struggle to create a compelling story that was based on accurate information. The analysis of the students' reflections provides important insights into their experience conducting this assignment, particularly in highlighting key strengths and challenges of this approach. These strengths and challenges are discussed.

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