CSU, Chico News

Book Publishing a Unique Teaching Strategy for Future Health Educators

Date: 05-07-2009

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Mark Tomita
Healthand Community Services

Mark Tomita, Department of Health and Community Services, teaches students to meet the technological challenges in public health education through the development of hardcopy books. Tomita, who teaches Computer Applications in Health Education (HCSV 260), has the editing help of colleague Vic Sbarbaro.

“The students take a project from scratch all the way to marketing of the product. The students must write content for the book, format the book, design a book cover based on the target population, learn about how to obtain ISBNs and barcodes, and how to subcontract the book printing to online book printing companies,” said Tomita. “Essentially, they must know how to publish a book when they are done.”

Along the way, they learn the basics of desktop publishing programs such as Word and Photoshop and how to use storytelling teaching strategies in health education. One Hundred and sixteen students worked on four books during the 2008–2009 academic year. The project was funded by a College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Strategic Performance Grant and Faculty Professional Development funds.

Last fall, students wrote two collections of stories told by Chico State students, one about intergenerational relationships and another about favorite elementary school teachers. The first, “Promoting Intergenerational Health,” was dedicated to Armeda Ferrini, professor emerita, who developed the gerontology programs at Chico State. Stories from her grandchildren are included in the book.

This spring, students worked on “Three Generations of Women: The Granddaughter’s Perspective” and “Chico Bear Adventures: The Awakening,” a children’s book that uses a fantastical take on Chico history to teach about family, social and spiritual health, said Tomita. He wrote much of the beginning and end of the novel, and his students developed the adventures that happen in the middle.

Learning about computer applications can be boring for health and community services students, said Tomita. “The publishing project approach taken in HCSV 260 engages students. When they see that their efforts produce a product they are proud of, it reinforces their learning and helps shape their attitudes towards using computer applications in public health.”

“Chico Bear Adventures” is available at the AS Bookstore. The electronic versions of the student books are available online at www.csuchico.edu/~mtomita/nsap/index.htm.