All MPH programs in the United States seek accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). CEPH promotes competency-based education, an institutional process that moves education from an emphasis on what academics believe graduates should know (teacher-focused) to an emphasis on what students should be able to do (student and workplace-focused). These competencies are associated with skills that will be demanded of graduates in their public health workplaces. To assess attainment of competencies, faculty must ask students to produce work products that demonstrate skill mastery. In contrast to typical classrooms, the MPH in Community- Oriented Public Health Practice (COPHP) uses problem-based learning (PBL) cases as the method for achieving competencies and creates real partnerships with government public health agencies and community-based organizations to engage students in producing work these organizations really need. The University of Washington adopted a set of MPH competencies in line with CEPH accreditation requirements, and we have mapped COPHP case learning objectives to these competencies. In this chapter, we discuss the evolution of the competency-based approach in our program, offer examples of problem-based cases from our public policy curriculum, and list the competencies that students will attain by the end of their participation in COPHP.
Keywords: Accreditation, Benjamin Bloom, Case learning, Competencies, Council on Education for Public Health, Paulo Freire, Problem-based learning, Skill mastery, Student-centered learning, Systems thinking.