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The Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Graduate Certificate Program: Student Perceptions of Impact

      Objective

      To assess the perceived impact of collaborative learning and community-based experiential experiences provided within an ongoing graduate certificate program in Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention (TOP) in students and alumni.

      Description

      South Dakota State University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln collaborated to build a TOP certificate program engaging graduate students in transdisciplinary coursework, experiential learning, and research focused on childhood obesity prevention. To date, 50 students from seven disciplines have completed the certificate. Perceptions of program impact were assessed from 2012 through 2016, via: focus groups, course evaluations, exit interviews, and alumni surveys. Focus groups and course evaluations were completed after students finished TOP core courses. Exit interviews were completed annually within six months of program completion and alumni surveys were completed in 2016 with alumni who completed the certificate between 2012-2016.

      Evaluation

      Substantial gains in confidence were observed in students’ abilities to make knowledgeable decisions to prevent childhood obesity, recommend practices related to transdisciplinary approaches, think critically about childhood obesity prevention, and understand perspectives of other disciplines. The majority of alumni reported that the program helped prepare them for their current professional positions; specifically preparing them for working collaboratively with transdisciplinary teams, and with research and writing skills. Ninety-eight percent of alumni reported they would recommend the TOP program to other students, noting improved interprofessional teamwork and collaboration skills.

      Conclusion and Implications

      Program evaluations demonstrate the positive impact this certificate program plays in developing graduates from across disciplines to be effective collaborators in tackling obesity prevention measures. The TOP certificate program serves as a premier example for development of transdisciplinary academic programs created to prepare future professionals to solve real-life problems.

      Funding

      2011-67002-30202

      Supplementary data