Course #: PCOL 819
Health Literacy: Service Learning
Elective Course
Days – Mondays, 2:00
Location – Drachman A126
Three Elective Units

Class schedule:
Most classes will be a combination of reports about the weeks outreach activities, learning new curriculum, journal article presentations, and reflections on readings.

Week One: Health Literacy
Week Two: Communication Styles & Cross Training
Week Three: Environmental Health & Cross Training
Week Four: Service Learning with K-12 students & Cross Training
Week Five: Service Learning Assignments & meet the teachers
Weeks Six – Fourteen: Journal article presentations, Guest Speakers, Reports of experiences, Additional work on curriculum, & Planning for events
Week Fifteen: Final meeting, Evaluation, Reception with Students + Teachers Multi-Media (pictures of classroom visits) presentation

Marti Lindsey
Instructor: Marti Lindsey, MA, MLS, ABD
Skaggs Building Room 311
Office Hours: Monday mornings & upon request

About the Course

Health Literacy: Service Learning is a three-unit course with lab for students with an interest in pharmacy or other health related careers. Students will attend classes each week to learn about health information communication and curricula to be used in classrooms and outreach events in Tucson. They will complete assignments; make short presentations about curricula, journal articles concerning health literacy, and their outreach experiences. They write weekly journals of their experiences, and a final summary report. The readings will enhance their understanding of communicating about health issues and about important issues related to health literacy in the pharmacy context.

Students attend class once per week. During the first few weeks the classes are three hours long. When the service-learning component of the course begins the class time is about one hour. The service learning / volunteer work accounts for the other hours and is about forty-either hour total. Service learning hours include preparation time and travel . No stipends will be paid to students; however reimbursement can be made for travel expense to schools, if requested.

** Laboratory courses must maintain a minimum of 45 contact hours per unit of credit.

Background and Significance

This course is based on providing optimum experiences for developing social responsibility and heighten civic awareness to pharmacy students through a curriculum designed to promote community service and heightened sensitivity and awareness of the culturally diverse, social, and economic components of health and illness that impact the quality of life in the surrounding community (Nichols-English, White, & Brooks, 2002). To support the outreach efforts a three credit-hour elective course will provide 48 hours of didactic training in community outreach, heath literacy and health communication principles; 44 hours of service related to common diseases with environmental etiologies; and 43 hours of homework and reflection on the service work performed. Through this design the student will be able to integrate academic and clinical skills with principles of community health promotion and prevention. The model for the course is based on the University of the Pacific outreach / service learning experiences. Two University of the Pacific student stated, “If I can communicate health principles to a 5th grader I can communicate about health with any one.”

Service learning is a way to a mutually-fulfilling reciprocal arrangement where students and community members can each be learners and teachers, servers and served (Carter & Cochran, 2002; Lamsam, 1999). Barner (J. C. Barner, 2000; Jamie C. Barner, 2000) reported that introducing service learning during the pharmacy curriculum may help students to:

(i) better understand the future patients that they will be serving;
(ii) recognize the importance of community service; and
(iii) become more aware of patients' need for social support.

The UA course will follow her successful format of: requiring students to submit written goals and objectives prior to starting their experience, to submit a reaction log that reflects upon their experiences at various points in the semester, and to submit a paper regarding health communication and their experiences and perceptions of service to the community. Barner (J. C. Barner, 2000) reported that the reaction logs and the written papers reflected that the service learning experience was enlightening and educational. Students will serve in settings of the partners of the Community Outreach and Education Core of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center.


Course Objectives

  • To create a vision, for school students, of the possibility of attending the university and considering a career in pharmacy
  • To provide opportunities for pharmacy students to serve the public with their pharmaceutical or other health literacy expertise
  • To provide opportunities for pharmacy students to practice health communication
  • To develop an understanding among pharmacy students for the need for empathy and effective communication in promoting health and dealing with patients
  • To develop an understanding about environmental health and to apply health literacy to that context

Outcomes Expected of Graduates of the Doctor of Pharmacy Program at the University of Arizona Domain 3: Health improvement, wellness, and disease prevention

Description: The graduate will promote health improvement, wellness, and disease prevention in cooperation with patients, communities, at-risk populations, and other members of an inter-professional team of health care providers.

Competency 3.2: Demonstrate the skills needed to participate in the preventive service aspects of practice

  1. Participate in public education programs (eg, health fairs and screenings)
  2. Provide empowerment strategies to control health outcomes
  3. Participate in programs for health improvement, wellness, and disease prevention
  4. Collaborate with other organizations (eg, governmental organizations, health organizations, business groups)



Barner, J. C. (2000). First-Year Pharmacy Students' Perceptions of Their Service-Learning Experience. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 64(3), p266-271.

Barner, J. C. (2000). Implementing Service-Learning in the Pharmacy Curriculum (Galley). American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 64(3).

Carter, J. T., & Cochran, G. A. (2002). Service-Learning Projects in a Public Health in Pharmacy Course. Am J Pharm Educ, 66(3).

Lamsam, G. D. (1999). Development of a Service-Learning Program (Galley). American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 63(1).

Nichols-English, G. J., White, C. A., & Brooks, P. J. (2002). Bridging Community Based Pharmacy Outreach with Service-Learning

Principles (Galley). American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 66(2)


Weekly logs 20%
In-class presentations 30%
Class participation 20%
Teacher feedback 20%
Summary Report 10%

Rubric provided for each element

A: 100-90
B: 89-80
C: 79-70
Less than 'C' is fail
Students not meeting at least a C will be asked to drop the class

Students are expected to abide by The University of Arizona Code of Academic Integrity. 'The guiding principle of academic integrity is that a student's submitted work must be the student's own.' If you have any questions regarding what is acceptable practice under this Code, please ask an Instructor.

Accommodating Disabilities

The University has a Disability Resource Center. If you anticipate the need for reasonable accommodations to meet the requirements of this course, you must register with the Disability Resource Center and request that the DRC send me, the Instructor, official notification of your accommodation needs as soon as possible. Please plan to meet with me by appointment or during office hours to discuss accommodations and how my course requirements and activities may impact your ability to fully participate.

Assignment Policies

i) Expectations: Students are expected to participate in class - you are especially expected to take an active role in discussions.
ii) Other than for medical (or other super-good) reason, no late assignments will be accepted.
iii) Prepare all written work in APA format; and word process or type all work;
iv) Identify your work by placing your name on all of your assignments.

The grade of “I” may be awarded only at the end of a semester, when all but a minor portion of the course work has been satisfactorily completed. The grade of “I” is not to be awarded when the student is expected to repeat the course; in such a case the grade of E must be assigned. Students should make arrangements with the instructor to receive an incomplete grade before the end of the semester. If the incomplete is not removed by the instructor within one year the “I” grade will revert to a failing grade.


Rick Brinkman and Rick Kirschner, (2003) Dealing with Difficult People: 24 lessons for Bringing Out the Best in Everyone. McGraw Hill: NY, NY.

Selected papers on health literacy, environmental health, and service learning will be assigned and available via and reserves at the library. In addition, students choose their own readings that relate to health literacy and pharmacy practice to present in class.

Suggested Readings

Baker, D. (2006). The meaning and the measure of health literacy. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 21(8), 878-883.

Carmona, R. H. (2006). Health Literacy: A National Priority. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 21(8), 803-803.

Davis, T. C., Wolf, M. S., Bass, I. I. I. P. F., Thompson, J. A., Tilson, H. H., Neuberger, M., et al. (2006). Literacy and Misunderstanding Prescription Drug Labels. Annals of Internal Medicine, 145(12), 887-W246.

Gazmararian, J., Williams, M., Peel, J., & Baker, D. (2003). Health literacy and knowledge of chronic disease. Patient Educ Couns, 51(3), 267-275.

Jahan, R. A. (2000). Promoting health literacy: a case study in the prevention of diarrhoeal disease from Bangladesh. Health Promot. Int., 15(4), 285-291.

Mancuso, C. A., & Rincon, M. (2006). Impact of Health Literacy on Longitudinal Asthma Outcomes. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 21(8), 813-817.

Nutbeam, D. (2000). Health literacy as a public health goal: a challenge for contemporary health education and communication strategies into the 21st century. Health Promotion International, 15(3), 259.

Osborne, H. (2005). Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Parikh, N. S., Parker, R. M., Nurss, J. R., Baker, D. W., & Williams, M. V. (1996). Shame and health literacy: the unspoken connection. Patient Educ Couns, 27(1), 33-39.

Pleasant, A., & Kuruvilla, S. (2008). A tale of two health literacies: public health and clinical approaches to health literacy. Health Promot. Int., 23(2), 152-159.

Schillinger, D., Grumbach, K., Piette, J., Wang, F., Osmond, D., Daher, C., et al. (2002). Association of Health Literacy With Diabetes Outcomes. JAMA, 288(4), 475-482.

Weiss, B. D., Mays, M. Z., Martz, W., Castro, K. M., DeWalt, D. A., Pignone, M. P., et al. (2005). Quick Assessment of Literacy in Primary Care: The Newest Vital Sign. The Annals of Family Medicine, 3(6), 514-522..

Zarcadoolas, C., Pleasant, A., & Greer, D. S. (2005). Understanding health literacy: an expanded model. Health Promot. Int., 20(2), 195-203.