THE SOCIAL CONTEXT OF ADOLESCENT HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT Syllabus

380.725.01 | AY 2013-2014 - 4th Term | 3 Credit(s)
M 1:30:00 PM
  • Course Learning Objectives

    After completing this course, you should be able to:

    • Apply at least one theoretical model that links social context to health and development to an adolescent health issue.
    • Clearly summarize the empirical evidence that links social context to at least one adolescent health issue.
    • Apply knowledge about the importance of context in shaping health and development by evaluating a prevention program aimed at adolescents.
  • Contact Information
    Faculty
    Sara Johnson
  • Contact Information

    Sara Johnson, PhD, MPH
    Email: sjohnson@jhsph.edu
    Office: 200 N Wolfe St, Rm 2017
    Tel: 410-614-8437

    Jenna Riis (TA)
    Email: jriis@jhsph.edu

  • Prerequisites

    There are no prerequisites for this class, but previous coursework related to adolescent health is helpful

    Additional Faculty Notes:

    This course is not open to undergraduates.

  • Course Schedule

    Please see the course Session for a full list of dates and items for this course.

  • Course topics

    Theoretical models of contextual effects on health and development

    • Social constructions of adolescent development and behavior

    Individual-level development in context: How does social experience get reflected in the biology of development?

    • Gene/environment interactions, epigenetics, evolutionary/life history theories

    The adolescent brain and decision-making in context

    • Social influences on brain development; the social context of risky and protective choices

    Socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity as contexts

    • Material versus psychosocial approaches to SES; methodological issues in studying race/ethnicity

    Parent/Family Contexts

    • The role of parents--Is there are parenting "gold standard?"

     Peer Contexts & Media

    • Romantic Relationships

    Neighborhood Influences

     

  • Required Text(s)

    Additional Faculty Notes:

    No textbooks are required.  All course materials are available in the online library in CoursePlus.

  • Course Description

    Integrates biological and sociological influences on adolescent health and development. Places developmental biology in a social context to illustrate how social forces, even those which seem far removed from health, shape biology and behavior during adolescence. Emphasizes multidisciplinary approaches, principally integrating basic science with the social and behavioral sciences and understanding gene by environment interactions. Examines the role of context in individual-level developmental and cognitive processes including: social influences on brain development, decision-making and behavior. Focuses on neighborhood, family, school, media influences, socioeconomic status, and race/ethnicity. Uses empirical work to consider the role of context in prevention and interventions aimed at adolescents.

    Additional Faculty Notes:

    This class is designed to provide students with a framework in which to integrate biological and sociological influences on adolescent health and development. Specifically, the course places developmental biology in a social context to illustrate how social forces, even those that seem far removed from health, shape biology and behavior during adolescence. The course will place heavy emphasis on multidisciplinary approaches, principally integrating basic science with the social and behavioral sciences.

    We will examine and evaluate theoretical models that illustrate how context influences health and development. We will begin by considering the role of context in individual-level developmental and cognitive processes including: social influences on gene expression, brain development, decision-making and behavior. We will then focus on neighborhood, family, media and peer influences as well as the roles of socioeconomic status, and race/ethnicity.  We will use this empirical work to consider the role of context in prevention and intervention efforts aimed at adolescents. 

  • Intended Audience
    Graduate Students.
  • Methods of Assessment

    Course Requirements and Grading

    1.  Class Participation (15%):  Please come to class prepared to discuss the readings and to engage in thoughtful dialogue with others in the class.  Your class participation grade also includes completing brief (ungraded) in-classes quizzes that are intended to help you gauge your understanding of class concepts. If you anticipate missing class, please let me know.

    2.  Annotated Bibliography (35%):  As the first step in the final project, students will create an annotated bibliography that demonstrates their ability to summarize and critically evaluate the published literature.

    • First, choose ONE adolescent health problem (e.g., injuries, interpersonal violence, pregnancy, suicide, obesity) or developmental transition (pubertal timing, brain development).
    • Then, chose ONE specific aspect of the social ecology beyond the individual (e.g., parents, peers, media, school, neighborhoods) to focus on. You should NOT chose the individual level.
    • Then, find 5 peer-reviewed scientific articles that demonstrate the relationship between your chosen social ecological factor and the health/developmental outcome of your choice.
    • Complete the annotated bibliography summary.
    • Write no more than 300 words summarizing how each article contributes to the literature about your ecological factor/health outcome relationship. Do not simply reiterate the abstract in your own words. Consider the following:
    • What does this study add, either to the literature generally, or to your understanding of how this factor influences your outcome?
    • How this source is similar or dissimilar from other papers you have located? Same/different results? Same/different population of interest/setting?
    • Is there a major theoretical or methodological concern that limits your faith in the generalizability/credibility of the results?

    The bibliography should not include review articles, although you are welcome to use review articles for background or to help identify relevant empirical articles.

    Due Date:  Your bibliography is due to the CoursePlus drop box by the beginning of class 4/21/2014 (Week 5). It is due to CoursePlus by noon on Monday, April 21nd.  I recommend that you run your ecological factor/outcome by me or Jenna to ensure that you’re on track before you start your assignment.

    1. Brief Paper (50%)Building on the annotated bibliography you assembled above, and using the same contextual factor and health outcome, write a brief paper that summarizes the evidence in favor of intervening the aspect of the social ecology. The paper should cover the following:

    a)  A brief overview of the adolescent health problem (2 paragraphs, maximum)

    b)  A summary of common, existing, individually-focused public health or clinical efforts to address the problem (this will require additional exploration of the literature. Aim for 3 additional papers) (no more than 1 page).

    c)  A summary of the evidence regarding the role of your chosen contextual factor in your outcome (about 1.5 pages)

    a. Consider: how consistent is the evidence? How persuasive?  If there are differences in findings across studies, why might this be? (e.g., study quality, design, or population)

    d)  Your recommendation about whether scarce public health resources should be invested to change this aspect of the social ecology, and, if so, how would it improve on a purely individually-focused approach? What is the value-added of considering context? (about 2 pages)

    The goal in this report is to communicate an analysis of the evidence clearly and persuasively. Paper must not exceed 6 double-spaced pages, 12 point font, 1-inch margins. (Points will be deducted for failing to follow these guidelines).  It should be fully referenced using the School’s guidelines for referencing, which are available on the SPH website. References are not included the page count. Please note that, since the goal is to communicate clearly in a short, concise format, you will be evaluated based on the quality of your writing/argument. Pay particular attention to the following:

    • Avoid passive voice. It is fine to use “I” to discuss your recommendations.
    • Keep sentences short and clear. Avoid run-ons and multiple thoughts in one sentence.
    • Make sure you reference appropriately.
    • Avoid changing tenses—choose either present or past tense and stay with it
    • Consider using headings to organize your thoughts
    • Communicate as simply and as clearly as possible; this is writing to inform and persuade.

    Due Dates: The final paper is due before the last class (5/12/14) to the CoursePlus drop box. It will be letter graded.

    Late assignments: Given the short term, no late assignments will be accepted. 

  • Academic Ethics Code

    Students enrolled in the Bloomberg School of Public Health of The Johns Hopkins University assume an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to the University's mission as an institution of higher education. A student is obligated to refrain from acts which he or she knows, or under the circumstances has reason to know, impair the academic integrity of the University. Violations of academic integrity include, but are not limited to: cheating; plagiarism; knowingly furnishing false information to any agent of the University for inclusion in the academic record; violation of the rights and welfare of animal or human subjects in research; and misconduct as a member of either School or University committees or recognized groups or organizations.

  • Disability Support Services
    If you are a student with a documented disability who requires an academic accommodation, please contact the Office of Student Life Services at 410-955-3034 or via email at dss@jhsph.edu.