Course: Schools and Health

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Course Description

This course examines the relationship between children's health and their K-12 school experience.  The eight components of the CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) coordinated school health program model is the organizing framework. Topics include history and development of school health, relationship of in-school interventions to students' health, health care access and academic outcomes, school health policy and politics, and the impact of school context on research methodology and findings.

The course uses a combination of lecture, discussion, and school site visits to help students apply the fundamental concepts of school health to multiple public health and education system issues.  Students connect course material to current events through discussion of newspaper articles.

Course Objectives

The goal of this course is to introduce course participants to the pre-K through 12th grade school experience with respect to its role in the healthy physical and psychological development of children and youth.  We use the CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) coordinated school health model as the organizing structure to examine current policies, research, and interventions to promote health and prevent disease in the school setting.

By the end of the course, students are able to:

  1. Understand the relationship between schools and their mission, and the history, policies, and interventions to promote health and prevent disease in schools;
  2. Describe the structure and function of coordinated school health programs and the social, health, and academic benefits of these programs to schools, families, and communities;
  3. Analyze how each coordinated school health program component contributes to the social, health, and academic outcomes of students, schools, families, and communities using a combination of current literature and in-school observations; and
  4. Apply the principles of coordinated school health to a specific public health problem to develop a set of policy and program recommendations for school health programs to address this problem.


  • Health is Academic: a Guide to Coordinated School Health Programs.  Marx and Wooley, eds. (1998). 
  • Required journal articles and other readings are listed on the Readings page.
  • Optional web resources and readings are listed on the Other Resources page.
  • Print or on-line version of a major newspaper.

Course Requirements

Class meets twice per week for 1.5 hours.  In general, the first 5 minutes will be devoted to discussion of newspaper articles, 45 to 50 minutes will be a lecture or panel presentation on the day's topic.  The remaining class time will be devoted to a discussion of the day's topic, incorporating the readings and news articles.

Two class sessions will be devoted to school site visits.  Visits will be done in groups of 2-4 students and used for the basis of the site visit and presentations and integrated into the final paper. 

One session will be devoted to student presentations on the site visits.

  • Class Participation (30 points)
    • All students are expected to complete all the readings prior to class and to contribute actively to the discussion at each class session.  Students must come prepared with questions or points to discuss during the class session.  The class participation grade will be based on:
      1. Frequency of comments; 
      2. Demonstrated understanding of the reading assignments based on responses to instructor questions;
      3. Questions and comments that indicate thoughtful consideration and integration of class material; and
      4. Presentation and participation in discussion of newspaper articles. Choose one article per week that is or can be related to schools and health and post it on the BBS for the course. The posting should also include a 1-2 sentence statement about its relevance to the class material. 
  • School Site Visit Project (30 points)
    • Each student will make two (2) school site visits to learn about urban public schools and health activities within them. One visit will be to a traditional school health services program and the other to a school-based health center. The schools represent a variety of elementary, middle and high schools in Baltimore City. 
    • Each group will develop and give a presentation based on their observations in the context of the CDC/DASH Coordinated School Health model. 
    • Details are listed on the Assignments page.
  • Public Health Problem Analysis (40 points)
    • Select a public health issue of interest to you and use the CDC/DASH Coordinated School Health model to discuss how schools could address the issue.
    • Details are listed on the Assignments page.

Grading Scale

This course is offered for grade only.  All assignments will receive written feedback along with the grade.

There are 100 points available.

  • A: 90-100 points
  • B: 80-89 Points
  • C: 70-79 points
  • D: 60-69 points
  • F: 0-59 points