Teaching Students to Write to Change the World





active learning, student engagement


Research Question/Hypothesis:
Opinion editorial writing remains a critical medium for sharing ideas and influence public dialogue. While more academics and health professionals are being encouraged to write opinion editorials, gaps remain in training students on this form of writing.

Study context/student population and course:
Undergraduate social work and/or public health students (N=27) enrolled in a social determinants of health course were assigned to write an opinion editorial on a social determinant of health.

Methodological approach and methods:
Over a 6-week period, students chose their topic, drafted sections of their opinion editorials, conducted peer review, and submitted for final grades. Students were instructed on audience engagement, providing evidence, providing counter-arguments, tying in their piece with a current news cycle, and providing relevant policy recommendations.

Summary of results:
The most frequent topics were discrimination and health, neighborhoods and health, and social isolation and health. Students demonstrated mastery with audience engagement. Two students published their pieces in local newspapers. Most students struggled with counter-arguments and policy recommendations.

Author Biography

Jhumk Gupta, George Mason University

Assistant Professor