Course: Residential College 098: The Future is Now
Faculty: Amy Wolaver
DP&S Liaison: Janine Glathar
Date: Fall 2013
Summary: To prepare for her residential college class, entitled “The Future is Now,” Economics Professor Amy Wolaver worked with GIS specialist Janine Glathar and two student researchers to build a set of digital maps exploring health care costs and outcomes in Pennsylvania. The assignment helped students learn to ask & answer spatial questions about the variation of healthcare outcomes in Pennsylvania using map layers and tabular data.
Background: Prof. Amy Wolaver (Economics) has research and teaching interests related to health care costs & outcomes in Pennsylvania. As director of Bucknell’s Institute for Public Policy (BIPP), she works with student research assistants each summer in a variety of contexts – teaching a STATA/SPSS boot camp, consulting with the research assistants on work for other faculty, and supervising students working on her own research – and has served as a faculty fellow for the Society & Technology Residential College. Over the course of several years, Prof. Wolaver and GIS Specialist Janine Glathar discussed ideas about how to integrate GIS/spatial thinking into Wolaver’s work. Prof. Wolaver attended a Mellon-funded ‘Introduction to ArcGIS Desktop’ workshop and received a grant to purchase a dataset from the PA Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) with zip-code level data on inpatient hospitalizations in Pennsylvania. During the exploratory phase of this collaboration, Wolaver and Glathar worked with a research student – Darin Rockwell (Geology ’13) – to begin mapping & analyzing the PHC4 dataset.
Research-To-Teaching Initiative: In summer 2013, Prof. Wolaver received a grant to develop a prototype healthcare atlas that would also serve as a learning module for the 1st year students in the Society & Technology Residential College. A team of BIPP interns – Michael McGowan (Biology ’14), Noelle Watters (Mathematics ’16) and Jessica Britto (Biomedical Engineering ’16) – was identified to work on the project. Their work unfolded in three distinct phases over the course of the roughly 10 week research period:
- Statistical Analysis – STATA/Data Management boot camp with Prof. Wolaver + work sessions with Wolaver to choose and calculate variables from PHC4 dataset
- GIS Visualization – ArcGIS Virtual Campus & weekly work sessions with GIS Specialist to map output tables from STATA and visualize map layers
- Publication & Presentation – work with GIS Specialist to publish map services and create the web maps and data dictionary needed for class assignment.
Using the prototype digital atlas, Prof. Wolaver designed an assignment for the first year students in her Society & Technology Residential College course, ‘The Future is Now.’ Her goal was to get students to think critically about the decisions (made by their peers who worked on the summer research project) that went into crafting the variables shown in their map, and to think spatially about the dynamics of health care provision in Pennsylvania and how this might relate to sustainability of the healthcare system.
Prior to the assignment, Prof. Wolaver delivered a lecture with background and context info they would need to connect the data in the maps to their readings from a class text, “Tracking Medicine: A Researcher’s Quest to Understand Healthcare,” by Dr. John Wennberg. Students presented their findings to the group and participated in a class discussion focused on spatial allocation of healthcare.
To learn more about DP&S faculty-student-staff collaborations, click here.