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Denise H. Britigan, PhD, CHES

Denise Britigan, PhD, CHES

Education Highlight – Denise H. Britigan, PhD, CHES, is an assistant professor in the UNMC COPH Department of Health Promotion, Social and Behavioral Health. Her teaching focuses on health promotion/community health, with an emphasis on health communication and health literacy.

Dr. Britigan will be teaching the first University of Nebraska massive open online course (MOOC), entitled Health Literacy and Communication for Health Professionals, set to begin October 19, 2014. Healthy literacy is identified as a priority for national action and “critical to delivering person-centered health care,” according to the Institute of Medicine. Moreover, there is a need for health care personnel and public health professionals to learn effective communication skills in the context of the social, economic, and environmental determinants of health. The Coursera MOOC has over 7,000 inter-professionals from 168 different countries already enrolled. In the spring of 2015, Dr. Britigan will be teaching the academic version of this course to inter-professional students at UNMC, along with teaching Public Health Leadership and Advocacy.

Dr. Britigan believes in having a learning-centered classroom that leads to success for both the students and the instructor. She bases her teaching philosophy on a constructivism learning strategy and the 5 E’s learning model. Constructivism is a learning strategy that draws on students’ existing knowledge, beliefs, and skills. Each of the 5 E’s describes a phase of learning that begins with the letter “E”: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. The 5 E’s model allows students and teachers to experience common activities, to use and build on prior knowledge and experience, to construct meaning, and to continually assess their understanding of a concept.

The interactive design of the Health Literacy and Communication for Health Professionals course allows health care pre-professionals in all disciplines to learn effective and practical skills and measures to ensure proper flow of health information. Successful communication means making connections happen … sometimes between people to establish relationships, often with information for creating and improving understanding, and in the context of community health, hopefully the consumer is at the center of how health professionals tailor their approach to caring for that person. The eight modules in this course are scenario-based, with examples from various health disciplines included. This approach serves two purposes: (1) scenarios are based on real-life opportunities for improvement (such as problem-based learning), and (2) exposure to a variety of examples across disciplines provides inter-professional learning opportunities.

Enrollment in the MOOC is free and open to students, health professionals, and anyone wishing to learn more about health literacy. Please visit the Coursera course space  for more information.

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