224.692.01 | AY 2013-2014 - 4th Term | 4 Credit(s)
MF 10:30:00 AM
  • Contact Information
    Elli Leontsini
    Peter Winch
    Peter Winch - New email
    Amanda Berman
    | Office Hours: Mon. 12:00-1:00pm, Tues. 12:00-1:00pm Location: Daily Grind
    Sarah Murray
    | Office Hours: Mon. 3:00-4:00pm, Tues. 9:30-10:30am Location: Daily Grind
    Haneefa Saleem
    | Office Hours: Thurs. 1:00-2:00pm, Fri. 12:00-1:00pm Location: Daily Grind
  • Course Description

    Examines how to conduct formative research and use its findings in the many stages of developing, implementing and evaluating public health interventions. Discusses cross-cutting issues in study design, community entry and involvement, data sharing and use, as well as staff development and supervision. Presents and explores case studies of multi-method formative research, and the use of the data collected to develop more effective behavioral and community interventions.  Examples presented and analyzed include programs to prevent and control HIV/AIDS, malaria, dengue hemorrhagic fever, diarrhea and neonatal mortality in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

  • Course Learning Objectives

    Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

    • Formulate formative research questions appropriate for each stage in intervention development, implementation and evaluation process
    • Identify appropriate guiding theories and methodologies, and integrate them into a formative research protocol
    • Prepare for coordinating a formative research component in the field, including capacity building, and sharing of data with community and partners in forums and meetings
    • Review, learn and critique current theories and methodologies taken, and ways in which data are utilized, in selected case studies
  • Methods of Assessment

    Student evaluation based on two online quizzes (10% each) and a written formative research protocol (80%)


  • Intended Audience
    MPH, MHS, and PHD students interested in formative and qualitative research.
  • Prerequisites
    221.688 or 224.689 and 224.690-691; or consent of instructor
  • Course Format

    Generally, lectures and discussion on the concepts and readings of the day are held on Monday and first half of Friday. Discussion and feedback on the students' protocol assignment, introduced concepts, and other exercises, is held during lab, in the second half of Friday. Exceptions occur in class 2, 3, and 4. Every other week or so, we will have a Lab Special where a guest pays us a visit to share a conceptual model, a methodology, findings, or other relevant topic. 

  • Class Assignments

    Students attend class, hand in assignments on time, and fully engage in discussions and group work, sharing their point of view in time-conscious ways. Everyone is expected to have read the materials in order to fully participate in all activities. 

    There are two on-line quizzes testing key concepts discussed in the lectures and readings.

    The format of the formative research protocol follows the lecture sequence as presented in class, such as context and research questions, study design, data collection, including data collection instrument drafts, and data analysis, organized to show how these research activities will flow, and a description of how the data will be used. It will include a targeted literature review and a timeline. The instructors and TA will provide feedback on each draft submitted but only the final version of the protocol will be graded. We recommend that you work on your protocol at a constant rhythm throughout the course. For more detailed guidelines consult that section.


    Assignment Schedule:

    Date due

    Protocol part due

    Mar 27

    Students post a topic and initial idea for a protocol on Course Plus

    Apr 07

    Submit memo and draft of Part 1

    Include protocol title and your name

    Include references pertaining to Part 1 as an annex

    Feedback given on April 10 and 13

    Apr 14

    Online Quiz #1: Types of formative research, Models and frameworks in formative research

    Apr 21

    Submit revised Part 1 and optional memo with challenges on Part 2

    Feedback given on April 24 and 25

    Apr 28

    Submit memo and draft of Part 2 (along with revised Part 1)

    Include references pertaining to this part (along with Part 1 refs) Attach corresponding data collection instrument drafts

    Attach corresponding timeline

    Feedback given on May 1 and 4

    May 05

    Online Quiz #2: Formative research methodologies for the study of prevention and careseeking

    May 09

    Optional: Submit memo and draft of Part 3 (along with Parts 1 & 2)

    Include all annexes

    Feedback given on May 13

    May 16

    Submit final version of protocol and annexes


  • Guidelines for formative research protocol assignment
    • Your protocol will be based on the definition of formative research as presented during the first day of class and, therefore, can also be a process documentation/evaluation or even a description of a quality assurance process; any of these types are welcome.
    • Important!  Come up with a protocol title and make it the first page of each draft that you submit.
    • Please, submit each part for feedback when due along with all former parts to help the reader remember what this was about.  Insert a header with date, page number and your name, on each version of the protocol that you submit.
    • When soliciting feedback, please write us a brief memo explaining what difficulties you are having, or what specific parts of the protocol you would like feedback on.
    • Why do we ask you to write a memo?  This makes us more efficient in our feedback, as we focus on areas where you have outstanding questions.  It also forces you to think through and better identify the difficulties you are having.

    For detailed guidelines see the guidelines for formative research protocol assignment document in the course library (linked here).

    Please refer to this file.
  • Course Schedule

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

  • 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