Christa Newtz, MS, RN

Instructor of Clinical Practice
College of Nursing

How Are You Teaching?

Public Service Announcement (PSA) Project Engages Students

Course Taught: 

  • N2460 Introduction to Therapeutic Communication for Health Professionals 


Clinical Practice Instructor Christa Newtz’s course on therapeutic communication culminates in a group assignment during which teams of students create a Public Service Announcement (PSA). When all 165 of her students returned to a virtual classroom following spring break, it became clear that managing virtual groups was not possible.

“The students were having technical or bandwidth issues,” Newtz said. “Some were working in the healthcare settings and were called into work.” Newtz quickly recognized she would have to shift a group assignment to an individual one; she also assumed she would have to shift her expectations for quality of final project. She was wrong.

“They were fantastic,” she said of her students’ submissions. 

Undergraduate students were charged with communicating in “plain language” valuable public health information to the public using one of the nine dimensions of wellnesssocial, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, financial, intellectual, physical, and creative. Use of plain language is difficult for students who are immersed in learning vocabulary associated with their chosen discipline, but the practice is essential when it comes to communicating effectively with patients and the general public. Even educated groups may not have high levels of healthcare literacy.

Newtz asked them to focus on a dimension that would be valuable personally as well. Several format options were offered, including video, pamphlets flyers or posters. Students could use their iPads to design their projects if they wanted, although Newtz encouraged students to be as creative as they wanted and to use tools that felt comfortable to them. Students worked in iMovie, Word, Powerpoint, Pages and other apps.

“Our students are really pretty creative,” she said. “You give them the resources, and they find the right option. I by no means put myself in the category of someone who would be an expert in project creation myself. I hope that message gets across to other faculty who are concerned about their own knowledge level.” Newtz had almost no technical questions posed, allowing her to focus on the project’s learning outcomes.

Newtz plans to use COVID-19 events as case stuiesy in her course to showcase plain language communication of public health issues. “When you are living it, it’s not as easy to study,” she said. “In a year, we will have had some space to think and consider this time.” 

Newtz welcomes colleagues to adapt this assignment in their own courses. and has provided this assignment and resources description.

Here are three examples of video PSAs created by students in Newtz's course:


Recommended reading: Abrams, K. (April 4, 2012). Student-designed Public Service Announcement (PSA) videos to enhance motivation and engagement. College Teaching 60: 84.