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J Cancer Educ. 2012 Jun;27(3):428-35. doi: 10.1007/s13187-012-0376-6.

Enhancing a cancer prevention and control curriculum through interactive group discussions.

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Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, 20892, USA.


The Principles and Practice of Cancer Prevention and Control course (Principles course) is offered annually by the National Cancer Institute Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program. This 4-week postgraduate course covers the spectrum of cancer prevention and control research (e.g., epidemiology, laboratory, clinical, social, and behavioral sciences) and is open to attendees from medical, academic, government, and related institutions across the world. In this report, we describe a new addition to the Principles course syllabus, which was exclusively a lecture-based format for over 20 years. In 2011, cancer prevention fellows and staff designed and implemented small group discussion sessions as part of the curriculum. The goals of these sessions were to foster an interactive environment, discuss concepts presented during the Principles course, exchange ideas, and enhance networking among the course participants and provide a teaching and leadership opportunity to current cancer prevention fellows. Overall, both the participants and facilitators who returned the evaluation forms (n=61/87 and 8/10, respectively) reported a high satisfaction with the experience for providing both an opportunity to explore course concepts in a greater detail and to network with colleagues. Participants (93%) and facilitators (100%) stated that they would like to see this component remain a part of the Principles course curriculum, and both groups provided recommendations for the 2012 program. The design, implementation, and evaluation of this initial discussion group component of the Principles course are described herein. The findings in this report will not only inform future discussion group sessions in the Principles course but may also be useful to others planning to incorporate group learning into large primarily lecture-based courses.

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