Megan Threats designs course to introduce high school students to health informatics
University of Michigan School of Information assistant professor Megan Threats will be teaching an “Introduction to Health Informatics” course to rising high school seniors from under-resourced communities this summer as part of the University of Michigan Wolverine Pathways Summer Institute.
Threats’ research has long focused on the use of technology to better help minoritized communities access healthcare services. Through this course, Threats’ goal is to help “introduce a new generation of students to the field of health informatics.”
UMSI doctoral candidate Deahan Yu will serve as Threats’ instructional assistant.
“There is a severe lack of diversity in the health informatics workforce,” Threats says. “One of my goals as a professor at UMSI is to diversify the field of health informatics, and use informatics to improve the health and well-being of minoritized communities.”
Wolverine Pathways is a University of Michigan program that seeks to confront the barriers that limit the college and career aspirations of highly motivated students from under-resourced communities. Students join Wolverine Pathways in 7th grade and participate in year-round college readiness programming like test preparation, career exploration and courses in a variety of fields.
Students who successfully complete Wolverine Pathways and are admitted to U-M Ann Arbor or U-M Dearborn receive a full, four-year tuition scholarship to the university.
“I see the Wolverines Pathways program as an excellent opportunity to strengthen pathways for high school students from under-resourced communities into the field of health informatics,” Threats says. “During the course, students will learn about the vast field of health informatics, including biomedical, public, nursing, consumer and health justice informatics. They will also obtain skills that can be applied in their future studies or careers as informaticians.”
By 12th grade, students can begin to take college level courses in the summer. Courses are four weeks long and are aimed at helping students explore potential careers, understand course loads and make connections with future professors.
UMSI’s involvement with Wolverine Pathways is part of a broader DEI effort to build outreach, recruit students from different backgrounds and expose middle and high school students to the field of health informatics.
“We’re trying to mitigate the barriers of the college admissions process,” says UMSI diversity, equity and inclusion outreach coordinator Sandra Lopez. “For UMSI, one of the points for us is to create an awareness of the field of information and create excitement about this field. It can be nebulous and we want to help students understand how interdisciplinary this field can be and why it’s worthy of exploration.”
This will be Threats’ first Wolverine Pathways course. Previously, UMSI professor of information Kentaro Toyama taught a course titled “Are you using TikTok or is TikTok using you? Critical Thinking about Social Media.”
“It was a really exciting course to teach and I loved working with the students,” Toyama says. “Part of the reason why I chose this particular topic was because I knew that they're all using TikTok as well as other social media like Instagram and Snapchat. Their perspective on privacy and its potential negative effects was fascinating.”
Learn more about Wolverine Pathways and how to get involved by visiting their website.
Read about Megan Threats’ research, publications and future projects by visiting her UMSI faculty profile.
Check out UMSI’s Master of Health Informatics program and apply today.