Course: Life Course Perspectives on Health

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» Application Readings and Commentaries

A set of Application Readings is assigned for each of the five life stages covered in Part Two of the course. These readings concern a specific health issue for which a life course perspective is appropriate. These examples are intended both to help students master the elements of a life course perspectve and to allow students to consider specific issues in more depth.

For two of the five life stages, students must submit a one-page commentary about the Application Readings. Comments may take the form of questions, observations, critiques and so on; they should not summarize the readings. The content of individual commentaries should reflect students� particular interests. However, to jump-start their comments students may wish to consider the following general points: 1) the results of empirical research to date and unanswered questions; 2) the conceptual framework that explicitly or implicitly underlies a life course approach to the issue; 2) challenges of methodology and measurement when adopting a life course approach in empirical research about the issue; 4) the implications of a life course perspective for practice and policy regarding the issue; and 5) comparing and contrasting a life course perspective to other approaches to the issue.

Students are graded on the on the quality of the commentary submitted, specifically whether the commentary 1) demonstrates critical thinking on the topic as it pertains to a life course perspective; 2) provides empirical or logical support for any points made (e.g., students should not simply state "I think the article is wrong"; they should support this sweeping criticism with a reasoned argument); and 3) is concisely written with attention to grammar and spelling. They are graded on a scale of 1-5, with 5 the highest evaluation, reflecting the 5 percent that each contributes to the final grade.

» Conceptual Framework Assignment

Download a PDF of the complete instructions for this assignment

The general aim of this course is to teach students to frame public health issues using a multilevel life course perspective. The course lectures, readings, and discussion are, of course, central to this aim. However, hands-on experience in applying these concepts is critical; without this experience, the material will remain abstract and its usefulness may be unclear.

This set of assignments is designed to make the multilevel, life course perspective more concrete and to highlight its value for research and practice. Students must identify an appropriate outcome, review the literature about the determinants of this outcome, and build a conceptual framework organizing this information using a multilevel life course perspective. Although students hand in three separate assignments, they are parts of a whole. The whole has been broken into steps so that students work on their framework throughout the class and can receive feedback as they work.

Step 1: Select a topic for conceptual framework

Step 2: Submit an annotated draft of conceptual framework

Step 3: Submit completed conceptual framework with accompanying description