Interdisciplinary Field Placements and Applied Learning During Covid-19: Community-Based Action Research on Face Mask Usage and Policies

Authors

Keywords:

social work, public health, coronavirus, mask mandate, rural

Abstract

This article describes the formation and work of an interdisciplinary team of social work and public health faculty and students. The team developed internships amid the challenges of the pandemic, with a focus on slowing the community spread of COVID-19. The project joined local government, the private sector, and the university in a research study to better understand and influence face mask wearing attitudes and behaviors and in an explicit effort to change related policies. We developed and implemented an action research project that included direct observations of facemask wearing behaviors, surveys regarding beliefs and attitudes about face masks, and interviews with community stakeholders. The project provided empirical data regarding face-covering usage that helped to change local—and then state—policy regarding mask wearing. This article provides a chronological narrative of the experience largely told through the participants’ voices, especially those of the students.

Author Biographies

Bret Weber, University of North Dakota

Bret A Weber, PhD, LMSW, is a Professor of Social Work and Graduate Program Director at the University of North Dakota. In addition to his academic duties he serves as a policy maker and local elected official.  His work focuses on environmental justice and housing including related research projects and service on various boards and commissions addressing housing and poverty issues.

Stephanie H. Scallon, University of North Dakota

Stephanie Scallon is a Licensed Master Social Worker who currently works as a statewide healthcare navigator for Community Action Partnership of North Dakota (CAPND). Her background includes studies in Anthropology, History, and Psychology. Her professional goals lie at the intersection between culture, mental health, research, and policy work. 

Ashley N. Evenson, University of North Dakota

Ashley Evenson is Program Manager of the Public Health Program at the University of North Dakota. With dual bachelor’s in Exercise Science and Community Health and a Master of Public Health degree, her training and passion comprise population health improvement. Ashley’s background and expertise lie in program and workforce development, program implementation and evaluation, community outreach and mobilization, and strategic planning.

Courtney A. Leben, University of North Dakota

Courtney Leben graduated the University of North Dakota (UND) in December 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work. She will begin the Master of Social Work program at UND in the fall 2021. Her professional goals include becoming a licensed social worker for the public school system and continuing to be involved in her community through research and social policy.

Mikale Kuntz, University of North Dakota

Mikale Kuntz plans to graduate in May 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health Education from the University of North Dakota (UND). Following graduation, she plans to continue her passion for public health and pursue a Master of Public Health degree at UND. Her professional goals also include becoming a physician to integrate medicine and public health in her career.

Isaac Karikari, University of North Dakota

Dr. Isaac Karikari is an assistant professor of social work at the University of North Dakota.

Tanis J. Walch, University of North Dakota

Dr. Tanis Walch is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education, Health and Behavior Studies at the University of North Dakota. With the ultimate goal of eliminating health disparities, enhancing health equity, and improving health outcomes, Dr. Walch’s research is focused on chronic disease prevention.  Specifically, her research centers on the influences of health behaviors and takes that information to develop and evaluate community-based interventions to improve health outcomes.

Emily M. Possis, University of North Dakota

Emily Possis is a current student at the University of North Dakota graduating in the Spring of 2021 with a Bachelors of Science in Public Health Education. She plans to further her education with a Masters of Public Health Degree in the future. Her professional  aspiration is to work in Public Health Administration. 

Delton R. Gabel, University of North Dakota

Delton Gabel is a current student at the University of North Dakota graduating in the Fall of 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health Education and a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He plans to continue his education with a Master of Public Health and attend Medical School in the future. His professional aspiration is to work with North Dakota and Upper Midwest communities.

Gabrielle M. Wavra , University of North Dakota

Gabrielle Wavra is a Licensed Master Social Worker who currently works as a school social worker in rural North Dakota. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Social Work and Master of Social Work degrees from the University of North Dakota with minors in psychology and chemical dependency.

Madeline E. Comeau, University of North Dakota

Madeline is a graduate nutrition student at the University of North Dakota (UND). She is a graduate research assistant for UND's College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines.

Carenlee Barkdull, University of North Dakota

Carenlee Barkdull, PhD, LMSW, is a Professor of Social Work at the University of North Dakota. She has over 20 years of experience utilizing collaborative and participatory action research frameworks to promote cross-systems and policy change in support of social and economic justice. A current focus of this work is reducing the disproportionate representation of Native American children in the foster care system.

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Published

2023-07-21

How to Cite

Weber, B., Scallon, S., Evenson, A., Leben, C. ., Kuntz, M., Karikari, I., Walch, T., Possis, E., Gabel, D., Wavra, G., Comeau, M., & Barkdull, C. (2023). Interdisciplinary Field Placements and Applied Learning During Covid-19: Community-Based Action Research on Face Mask Usage and Policies. Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping, 29(1), 77–92. Retrieved from https://reflectionsnarrativesofprofessionalhelping.org/index.php/Reflections/article/view/1943

Issue

Section

Impact of COVID-19 on Preparing Future Helping Professionals