An Inside Look at a UW Health and Wellness Management Course: Biopsychosocial Aspects of Health

Kaitlynn Martin December 4, 2019
Overhead shot of a woman typing on a laptop. Lightbulb doodles surround the laptop screen.

In the online University of Wisconsin Master of Science in Health and Wellness Management students learn health and wellness perspectives, in addition to the strategic planning and communication skills required to manage well-being programs that have the power to transform the workplace and beyond.

Enrolling in a master’s degree program is a big decision, especially if you are working full-time and have other commitments. You may be wondering what a typical course in the online program looks like, and have questions such as:

  • How are lectures presented?
  • What types of assignments will I work on?
  • What am I expected to complete each week?
  • How do I interact with coursemates and faculty?

We’ll answer these questions and more as part of our course inside look at HWM 730: Biopsychosocial Aspects of Health.

What will I learn in the course?

HWM 730: Biopsychosocial Aspects of Health examines the biological, psychological, and social-environmental aspects of wellness. After completing the course, you will be able to:

  • Understand employee well-being through the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors.
  • Understand the relationship among theory, research, and practice.
  • Select appropriate theories for particular wellness interventions and employee populations.
  • Apply behavioral economic principles to evaluate wellness promotion programs.
  • Connect employee needs satisfaction to health outcomes.
  • Critically examine current wellness industry programs and trends.
  • Identify methods for cultivating employee strengths.

What will the lectures be like?

In fall and spring semesters, the course is comprised of 15 lessons that span 15 weeks (1-2 lessons per week), while the summer semester is an accelerated 11-week format (1-3 lessons per week). Unlike an on-campus program, you are not required to attend a lecture during a specific time. Instead, you are assigned videos, readings, discussion posts, and lesson quizzes to complete each week. You can start and stop a reading or video on your own schedule within the lesson period, and you can listen to, watch, or reference content as many times as you need to reinforce the material.

All readings, assignments, projects, and quizzes are clearly outlined in the Course Calendar that you can refer to anytime during the course:

Summer 2019 HWM 730 Course Calendar

What types of assignments will I complete?

The number and variety of assignments may vary from course to course within the UW Health and Wellness Management program, but the amount of time and effort you spend each week in HWM 730 is consistent with other courses.

Each week you are assigned 3-4 required readings and/or video lectures. These textbook chapters, videos, and other articles focus on the week’s lesson(s) and prepare you for assignments and quizzes.

Along with readings, some lessons include video lectures and discussion boards where you will interact with classmates and the course instructor through posts.

I loved how this course dove into the mental side of health. I enjoyed learning about how stress can play a role in your health and coping methods for stress, in addition to learning how to enjoy the little things in life that can truly make you happy. This course was great for professional and personal development.
Summer 2019 student

What else will I do in the course?

Toward the middle of the course, you will take what you’ve learned in the video lectures, reading, assignments, and discussions and apply it to a Behavior Change Intervention Proposal. By using a Behavior Change Theory approach, you will select a personal behavior (e.g. reduce processed sugar in diet, exercise 150 minutes a week, sleep at least 7 hours a night) to improve upon.

Once a behavior is selected, you will complete  multi-week assignments in which you self-observe and self-monitor your progress, and identify cognitive-behavioral strategies to apply to the intervention. This assignment concludes with a written reflection paper about what worked and what challenged your intervention process. 

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Who is the instructor?

Todd Wilkinson, PhD, is a professor in the UW-River Falls Psychological Sciences Department. UW-River Falls is one of the campus partners in the Master of Science in Health and Wellness Management program, along with UW-Green Bay, UW-Parkside, UW-Stevens Point, and UW-Superior. Learn more about our campus partnerships.
UW HWM faculty member Todd Wilkinson

At UW-River Falls, Todd serves as the department specialist for health psychology and teaches courses in Health Psychology, Sport Psychology, General Psychology and Research Methods. Among his research interests are exercise promotion, sport performance and positive psychological interventions influencing health and wellness. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and economics from Macalester College and his master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

In HWM 730: Biopsychosocial Aspects of Health he strives to provide opportunities for students to experience the research process from conceptualization through presentation of findings.

When you enroll in the course, you will be provided with Todd’s office hours, phone number, and email. This way you can reach out to him with questions regarding course lectures, readings, assignments, and more.

Professor Wilkinson was very responsive to any issues that I had and did his best to improve or figure out technical difficulties. He provided great feedback and invested his time to the class in his responses.
Summer 2019 student

Do students in the course interact?

Yes. Students interact and share ideas through graded discussions in Canvas, the course’s learning management system. You can also collaborate, ask questions, and have general, non-assessment discussions in the virtual Student Resource Lounge. Many students are surprised to find that they get to know their instructors and classmates better online than in a traditional classroom.

How much do I do in one week?

Some students report putting in 20 hours of work per course each week. Keep in mind, this time commitment varies depending on how much previous educational and/or professional experience you bring into the program, as well as your work and life schedule.

In addition to the UW Health and Wellness Management academic directors and other resources offered by your chosen home campus, the UW Extended Campus Student Services team is comprised of Success Coaches. Offering support for academic, coursework, graduation, and personal needs, your Success Coach is there to guide you through the program.

Very positive learning environment and ‘tone’ to this class! Professor Wilkinson is very respectful and approachable and provides good feedback. His feedback also provokes additional critical thinking and sparks new ideas on how to look at topics. I love this material. Interesting, real, usable, and there should be more like it in this program. Assignments are both relevant and personal, and therefore learning is memorable.
Summer 2019 student

Have questions about HWM 730: Biopsychosocial Aspects of Health or the online UW Master of Science in Health and Wellness Management? Enrollment advisers can help with all of your questions. Call 1-877-895-3276 or email

Programs: Health and Wellness Management