Successful Assessment Grant Proposal: Master of Public Health (MPH)

Focus: Aligning assessments with changes to accreditation criteria, curriculum, and course competencies

Project information

Project title: Analysis of MPH program competencies- preparation for CEPH reaccreditation

Contact person: Rachel Mahas, PhD
Role/Position: MPH Program Director, Assistant Professor
Department/Unit: Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences
Program name: Master of Public Health
Participating colleagues/collaborators: 

  • Elissa Firestone, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences
  • Juliann Binienda,Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences
  • Anne Victoria Neale, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences


Reason for proposal:

1. How is program-level assessment currently done in your program?

We have two committees that are responsible for program-level assessment. The Program Evaluation Committee (PEC) oversees the evaluation of the Master Public Health (MPH) program. The PEC is charged with reviewing, developing, and gathering metrics required for Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) accreditation, as well as Higher Learning Commission (HLC) annual assessments, and the reporting of MPH performance to stakeholders. The Curriculum Committee (CC) is responsible for annually reviewing the MPH degree program to ensure that degree requirements satisfy accreditation criteria. At the course level, faculty use the Canvas Learning Management System to track individual student competency attainment. For each assigned course competency, faculty manually input course competency assessment data using the rating met or not met.

These data are then sent to the MPH program manager (Elissa Firestone) and PEC to store on the program's Microsoft OneDrive for future reporting to the accrediting body.

2. What, specifically, needs development or improvement with respect to those assessment practices, processes, or instruments?

Our MPH program is scheduled for reaccreditation in December 2024. Recently, the program underwent significant revisions to the 42-credit hour competency-based curriculum. We made changes to multiple courses and matched them to the CEPH 22 foundation (core) and 10 concentration competencies in mid-2021.

These course changes were subsequently approved by CEPH and our internal committees. However, CEPH has recently made changes to their accreditation criteria guidelines and as such we must ensure our revised curriculum, with matched course competencies, are still effectively assessed per the CEPH guidelines. For example, the following competency "Perform effectively on interprofessional teams" was recently updated to "Integrate perspectives from other sectors and/or professions to promote and advance population health" (see ). In the past institutions have fallen short of meeting expectations on their program's self-study due the inability to measure this competency effectively. Although, our CC has approved the measurements of all competencies, there may be room for improvement through the lens of the accreditation body.

3. What factors or conditions have contributed to the area(s) needing development or improvement?

The need for a CEPH consultation review of our current assessment practice greatly stems from CEPH releasing a revised accreditation criteria (2021 Accreditation Criteria) after implementation of our modified curriculum. This drives the necessity for confirming that our current assessment methods are consistent with the revised guidelines set forth by the accreditation body as we prepare for reaccreditation.

Proposed actions and expected impact:

1. What steps will you take to improve your program's learning outcomes assessment practices, processes, or instruments if you receive funding? Be as specific as you can about the link between the needed development or improvement(s) and your proposed actions.

To reiterate, our program must verify that course assignments are suitably matched to competencies and evaluated per the accreditation body's 2021 Accreditation Criteria. We seek to schedule a CEPH consultant to review our current assessment practices which will assist us in preparation for reaccreditation in the coming two years. We expect that the consultant will advise us if different pathways to assessment of student competency attainment should be considered. The expert's recommendations will be disseminated to all course faculty, PEC and CC, and modifications to course assessments made based on them.

We will assemble constituents from the PEC and CC to work with the expert consultant in the half-day virtual visit. In planning for the consultation visit, we will hire a student assistant to work with the MPH program manager (Elissa Firestone, MEd) and director (Rachel Mahas, PhD) on reaccreditation needs. The student assistant will aggregate questions and/or concerns about the program's assessment practices under the guidance of the MPH Program Director, (Rachel Mahas, PhD) and CC Chair (Juliann Binienda, PhD). This information will be used to guide an interactive, working session with the consultant, PEC (Victoria Neale, PhD) and CC (Juliann Binienda, PhD) representatives. The student assistant will input data for us to assist with current tracking and monitoring of program competency assessment and will research available competency assessment software compatible with Canvas that can be purchased to aid in data aggregation and competency mapping. In addition, we would like to include attendance of a public health professional development conference by the MPH director (Rachel Mahas, PhD) and/or the Director of the Division of Population Health Sciences (Juliann Binienda, PhD). For example, it would be useful to attend the annual meeting for Teaching Prevention by the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research to learn of any assessment methodologies that may be relevant to program-level assessment of public health competencies.

2. How will your assessment practices, processes, or instruments grow or improve as a result of your project?

We anticipate that the consultation and professional development conference will help improve the program's assessment techniques as we move forward in our reaccreditation process. Recommendations from the working session will be used to validate our assessment tools and processes and aid us in training faculty in assessment practices. Such feedback will be timely, as our program's self-study draft is due in Winter 2024, so any changes to the assessment of student competency attainment discovered by the consultation/ or through professional development will need to be made in advance for appropriate data collection and reporting. Appropriate competency assessment software compatible with Canvas identified by the student assistant to meet the needs of the program may be purchased to help in data mapping and ease in reporting.

3. If this program has received a WSU Program Assessment Grant in the past, how does the current project differ from the previous grant project?


Assessment expertise:

1. What experience in assessment does your team bring to the project? (NB: The goal of this question is to understand the existing assessment expertise among the collaborators. Prior experience in assessment is not a requirement of the grant.)

The team consists of curriculum development and evaluation faculty experts.

The team consists of members of the PEC (Victoria Neale, PhD, MPH) and CC (Juliann Binienda,PhD), MPH program manager (Elissa Firestone, MEd.) and MPH director (Rachel Mahas, PhD) who are vital to the revision, implementation, and assessment of the curriculum. Dr. Binienda has a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction and was a program evaluator on several grant funded projects. She is a Program Evaluator for statewide Area Health Education Center grant which examines health care professional workforce development. Additionally, Dr. Binienda has been a faculty member at WSU for more than 25 years, is the MPH Program Curriculum Committee Chair, faculty instructor for the MPH Applied Public Health Principles in Practice course and MPH Program Evaluation Committee member.

MPH Director Dr. Rachel Mahas has a PhD in Health Education and also has experience with the various assessment of competency-based education within undergraduate and graduate public health and nursing programs.

Drs. Binienda and Neale will work with the student and the MPH director (Rachel Mahas, PhD) on aggregating questions and/or concerns about the program's assessment practices. Collectively we will benefit from the accreditation expert's lens on our program's competency attainment assessment process and tools that may be available to make the program's assessment process more fluid.

2. What assistance, if any, do you need from experts in assessment or in other areas to carry out your project? Examples might include survey, test, or activity design support, statistical analysis, etc.


Deliverables, responsible parties, timeline:

Deliverables: Responsible party: Completion date:
Schedule with CEPH consultant a date to meet in Winter of 2023 MPH Program Director October-November 2022
MPH program PEC committee meeting on determination of program assessment concerns for reaccreditation through self-study template * PEC September-December 2022
Aggregate assessment concerns under guidance of MPH Program Director, (Rachel Mahas, PhD) and CC Chair (Juliann Binienda, PhD) Student Assistant January 2023
Conduct a search and review of all competency assessment software systems compatible with Canvas LMS Student Assistant January/February 2023
Midpoint report Student Assistant under guidance of MPH Program Manager and Director February 2023
Consultant virtual visit** Participants from PEC and CC, MPH Program Director, and MPH Program Manager March/April 2023
Discussion/Demonstration on expert's recommendations at MPH faculty meeting MPH Program Director, and MPH Program Manager April/May 2023
Coordinate with the WSU Director of Assessment by Sept. 30, 2023 to participate in an on-campus public presentation by April 30, 2024 describing the work accomplished under the grant Student Assistant, MPH Program Manager June/July 2023
Final report and presentation Student Assistant, MPH Program Manager and/or Director June/July 2023

*2021 Accreditation Criteria for program
** CEPH requests this type of consultation be done approximately 10 months before preliminary self-study is due, therefore, not scheduled sooner

Funding request:

Cost Item
$950 Expert CEPH consultation distance-based visit- Related to procedural requirements for an accreditation review
$1600 Salary- student assistant 4 hours/week at $15 per hour
$450 Professional development- example APTR conference
$3000 Total amount requested

Return to main WSU Program Assessment Grants page