Unit: Public Health Studies
Program: Epidemiology (PhD)
Degree: Doctorate
Date: Wed Oct 08, 2014 - 7:23:55 am

1) Below are your program's student learning outcomes (SLOs). Please update as needed.

1.         General Skills and Knowledge

1.1       Descriptive Epidemiology

1.1.1    Produce the descriptive epidemiology of a given condition, including case definition, calculation of the primary measures of disease morbidity and mortality, and appropriate comparisons by person, place and time.

1.1.2    List the strengths and limitations of descriptive studies.

1.1.3    Identify data from existing national and international sources.

1.2       Biology

1.2.1    Complete course work or equivalent in human physiology and pathophysiology, with special competence in the disease addressed in the student’s dissertation.

1.3       Basic knowledge of the leading public health problems and the history of the discipline

1.3.1    Identify major chronic and infectious diseases, their general pathophysiology, descriptive epidemiology and risk factors.

            1.3.2    Identify leading causes of death.

1.3.3    Understand the general history of the development of epidemiology, including the major epidemiological studies of selected diseases.

1.3.4    Know the principles of screening and of surveillance systems, including understand the concepts of validity and reliability of screening tests and be able to calculate associated measures and know the types of surveillance systems and approaches used in disease surveillance.

1.3.5    Understand the global, cultural, and social context of health problems and how these influence the conduct, interpretation, and dissemination of research and intervention studies.

2.         Research

2.1       Problem Conceptualization

            2.1.1    Search the literature.

2.1.2    Review and critically evaluate the literature (be familiar with different approaches to reviewing and synthesizing the literature).

            2.1.3    Synthesize available information.

            2.1.4    Identify meaningful gaps in knowledge.

            2.1.5    Formulate an original and key hypothesis or statement of the research problem.

2.2       Study Design

2.2.1    Design a study using any of the main study designs (including clinical trials and community trials).

2.2.2    Understand the advantages and limitations of each design for addressing specific problems, as well as the practical aspects of their uses, including trade-offs. This understanding will be reflected in selecting the most appropriate and efficient design for a designated problem.

            2.2.3    Calculate the requisite sample size.

2.2.4    Identify and minimize sources of bias; describe both the direction and magnitude of the bias and the effect of potential biases on the measures of association.

            2.2.5    Use basic population sampling methods.

2.3       Data Collection and Monitoring

2.3.1    Use methods of measurement – design data collection forms assessing both exposures and outcomes; determine the validity of the instrument; identify the presence and magnitude of measurement error; adjust for measurement error when appropriate data are available.

2.3.2    Monitor the conduct and progress of data collection; develop, implement and assess quality control measures.

2.4       Data Management

2.4.1    Create data files appropriate for analysis; carry out the steps needed to create new variables, clean the data sets, etc.

2.5       Data Analysis

2.5.1    Use statistical computer packages to calculate and display descriptive statistics, analyze categorical data, and perform multivariable regression, survival analysis, and longitudinal analysis.

2.5.2    Examine data for the presence of confounding and interaction (effect modification), identify their presence, and manage them appropriately.

2.6       Interpretation

2.6.1    Interpret the research results, make appropriate inferences based on results, and recognize the implications of the research results; (also see 2.2.4 above – Study design).

2.7       Communication

2.7.1    Communicate research results orally and in writing to both scientists and non-scientists (includes preparation of a manuscript suitable for publication in a scientific journal and presentation of research proposals).

            2.7.2    Present research data in both tabular and figure forms.

2.8       Ethics

2.8.1    Understand the concepts of human subjects protections and confidentiality, and awareness of particular issues relevant to the study of specific populations.

            2.8.2    Apply this understanding as evidenced in the design and conduct of their research.

2.9       Substantive area

2.9.1    Demonstrate mastery of a substantive area, including knowledge and application of that knowledge in conducting original research related to a specific topic.


2) Your program's SLOs are published as follows. Please update as needed.

Department Website URL: http://www.hawaii.edu/publichealth/
Student Handbook. URL, if available online: http://www.hawaii.edu/publichealth/download/students/1011_Handbook.pdf
Information Sheet, Flyer, or Brochure URL, if available online: NA
UHM Catalog. Page Number:
Course Syllabi. URL, if available online:

3) Select one option:

Curriculum Map File(s) from 2014:

4) For your program, the percentage of courses that have course SLOs explicitly stated on the syllabus, a website, or other publicly available document is as follows. Please update as needed.


5) Did your program engage in any program assessment activities between June 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014? (e.g., establishing/revising outcomes, aligning the curriculum to outcomes, collecting evidence, interpreting evidence, using results, revising the assessment plan, creating surveys or tests, etc.)

No (skip to question 14)

6) For the period between June 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014: State the assessment question(s) and/or assessment goals. Include the SLOs that were targeted, if applicable.

The PhD graduate faculty in epidemiology created its third written qualifying examination and administered it to
five doctoral candidates on April 18, 2014.

7) State the type(s) of evidence gathered to answer the assessment question and/or meet the assessment goals that were given in Question #6.

The written qualifying examination is an 8-hour 2-part written test consisting of questions that assess the student’s
knowledge of and competency in (1) key areas of epidemiology, including study design, causal inference,
statistical methods, and epidemiologic data analysis and interpretation, and (2) the student’s area of
specialization. This exam is taken after the student has completed all the required prerequisite courses as well as
the 2 core courses in infectious diseases (PH 665) and chronic disease epidemiology (PH 748). The purpose of
this examination is to determine whether to encourage students to proceed in a doctoral program and if
encouraged, to enable their advisors to assist them in planning an appropriate program which will familiarize them
with the requisite knowledge and techniques in their chosen fields of study.

8) State how many persons submitted evidence that was evaluated. If applicable, please include the sampling technique used.

All six (6) Office of Public Health Studies' members of the graduate faculty in epidemiology submitted questions
that were included on the written qualifying examination.

9) Who interpreted or analyzed the evidence that was collected? (Check all that apply.)

Course instructor(s)
Faculty committee
Ad hoc faculty group
Department chairperson
Persons or organization outside the university
Faculty advisor
Advisors (in student support services)
Students (graduate or undergraduate)

10) How did they evaluate, analyze, or interpret the evidence? (Check all that apply.)

Used a rubric or scoring guide
Scored exams/tests/quizzes
Used professional judgment (no rubric or scoring guide used)
Compiled survey results
Used qualitative methods on interview, focus group, open-ended response data
External organization/person analyzed data (e.g., external organization administered and scored the nursing licensing exam)

11) For the assessment question(s) and/or assessment goal(s) stated in Question #6:
Summarize the actual results.

One student passed, one student did not pass, and three students received "conditional passes" meaning that they were deficient in at least one area. For these students, faculty advisors prescribed additional assignments in the student's area(s) of weakness. As of today (10/8/2014), 1 of the 3 students has met the conditions to pass the exam, while 2 others are still working on their assignments.  The one student who did not pass will take the exam again next spring.

12) State how the program used the results or plans to use the results. Please be specific.

Results from the qualifying exam indicate that each student has specific and different areas of weakness (e.g, one student may be deficient in statistics whereas another may be deficient in causal inference).  We use these resuts to tailor student-specific
interventions to meet the particular learning needs of each student.  For example, increased mentoring, guidance, and prescription of additional coursework or directed readings focused on the student's particular weakness(es).

13) Beyond the results, were there additional conclusions or discoveries?
This can include insights about assessment procedures, teaching and learning, program aspects and so on.

The PhD program is within the Public Health program accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).  As part of the accreditation process, we completed a self study over the past year and submitted it to CEPH in August 2014.  The PhD faculty committee re-examined program assessment procedures.  As stated in the report, advisors meet regularly with their students to formulate plans to achieve competencies and to make sure they’re on track toward achieving expected competencies. The qualifying and comprehensive examinations, and the dissertation and final defense all serve to assure that competencies are attained during the candidate’s tenure as a doctoral student.  

14) If the program did not engage in assessment activities, please explain.
Or, if the program did engage in assessment activities, please add any other important information here.

The CEPH site visitors expressed concern that PhD students who do not have an MPH or other public health degree or experience do not receive adequate coursework in all of the core areas of public health.  Although all PhD students admitted to the program thus far have MPH or other public-health-related degrees or experience, we will include a new requirement to meet the CEPH demand assuring that all PhD students meet the criterion ("broad public health orientation").  Currently, students admitted to the PhD program without an MPH or MS in Public Heath must take six prerequisite public health courses (18 credits total) in the core MPH curriculum, including two 3-credit courses in biostatistics, two 3-credit courses in epidemiology, and one 3-credit course on computer applications in public health. Doctoral candidates are also required to: (1) take courses that cover the public health importance of infectious and chronic diseases, (2) pass a qualifying examination that includes questions relevant to public health, (3) complete a teaching practicum with a faculty member in public health, and (4) complete a research practicum with a faculty member in public health.  PhD program faculty will meet this semester to address CEPH's concern.