Identifying, Leveling and Developing Competencies for Curriculum Design In Nursing Education

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Curriculum Design In Nursing Education and Identifying, Leveling and Developing Competencies

Identifying, Leveling and Developing Competencies for Curriculum Design In Nursing Education

Identifying and Developing Competencies for Curriculum Design In Nursing Education, Leveling Competencies for Curriculum Design In Nursing Education, Competency Learning Progression Charts for Curriculum Design In Nursing Education.

Identifying and Developing Competencies for Curriculum Design In Nursing Education

    After the expected program outcomes have been established, the next step in the curriculum development process is to identify the competencies that students need to possess to attain these outcomes. Competency statements identify the knowledge, skills, and professional attitudes and values that students need to develop if they are to achieve the program outcomes. 

    Competency statements are behaviorally anchored and student focused. Nursing faculty must approach curriculum development from the premise that nursing knowledge and skills are built on or interwoven with general education knowledge and skills. 

    Outcomes should include those competencies that are specific to the nursing discipline, as well as those competencies that establish a foundation for lifelong learning. Students achieve the identified competencies, through acquisition of necessary KSAs, leading to the achievement of the expected program outcomes, whether as an undergraduate or graduate student. 

    Competency statements are important in assessing student learning because they become the foundation that drives evaluation. When identifying competencies, faculty should give attention to determining the right student, the right behavior, the right level of behavior, and the right context of the behavior. 

    Here, student refers to the level of student from whom faculty are expecting these behaviors (e.g., pre nursing, nursing sophomore, nursing senior, master’s or doctoral level, etc.); level of behavior refers to the level of learning or performance at which the behavior is to be demonstrated (this is where learning taxonomies are helpful); and context of the behavior refers to the environment in which the behavior should occur. 

    For example, if faculty believe that it is essential for students to exhibit a particular skill, knowledge, or attitude across a continuum of health care settings or with a select population of patients, then the competency statement should indicate the parameters in which the behavior should be expressed. 

    It is equally important for faculty to remember not to be so specific as to “paint themselves into a corner” from which there is no escape (e.g., if faculty specify that a certain behavior will be demonstrated with postoperative patients in an outpatient surgical setting, all students must be guaranteed this type of experience for faculty to make an accurate and consistent assessment and evaluation of student performance).

Leveling Competencies for Curriculum Design In Nursing Education

    In leveling, or specifying, competencies, faculty must recognize the level at which the KSAs need to be demonstrated to obtain the outcome desired throughout the curriculum. The learning environment will need to be designed to enable the students to acquire knowledge at the level identified. 

    Evaluation measures also need to be consistent with the level of learning identified to ensure consistency in evaluation from the time of input of information through the time of output of the expected competency. Learning occurs at various levels, and the level of learning needs to be explicitly stated in the competencies faculty generate for each level within the curriculum.

    Once competencies have been leveled to a year or semester or academic level, faculty must carefully examine these competencies and determine how courses can be designed to contribute to the ongoing development of these competencies. 

    The behaviors embedded in each competency become the focus for writing course level competencies. Not all competencies will or should be included in all courses that make up the curriculum. 

    Competencies at the course level are more concrete and detail how the chosen competencies explicitly relate to the course. The faculty will then need to identify what prerequisite and requisite knowledge and skills students will need to possess to demonstrate this behavior.

    If, for example, faculty believe that the individualization of a standard care map is critical to a nurse practitioner student learning experience, then a course level competency resulting in course objectives, learning activities, and evaluation of learning will be included to reflect this behavior.

    Because structured learning tends to be grounded in developmental theories, students are expected to become more accomplished in applying knowledge to increasingly more complex or new situations as they move through the curriculum. 

    Course competencies (course expectations) then should be written to reflect the placement of the course within the curriculum; the expectations of learning for courses that precede, articulate, and follow each course; and how each course can contribute to the development of program competencies. Precision is needed when writing competency statements. 

    The language of the competencies must reflect a continued sense of development. Development may take the form of increasing complexity, differentiation, delineation, or sophistication.

Competency Learning Progression Charts for Curriculum Design In Nursing Education

     As noted earlier in this chapter, outcomes are typically measured through more specific competency statements that, in aggregate, provide evidence that the outcome was achieved. 

    To maintain curricula integrity, tracking competencies associated with each program outcome is an important activity; however, tracking the numerous competencies associated with all of the outcomes can become an onerous task. 

    Comprehensive content grids are useful and necessary; however, they can be so voluminous that they lose utility for depicting the building blocks of KSAs desired.

    Several methods for documenting learning progression may be used; one exemplar is the competency learning progression chart. 

    A competency learning progression chart (Sullivan, 2014) can succinctly demonstrate the progression of learning (Table 6-3). Each program outcome is measured through multiple derived competencies created to reflect learning achievement. 

    Each of the component competencies is shown in a grid beneath the larger learning outcome, including information regarding the course location, specific learning activities, and evaluation criteria to assess student learning. 

    Once agreed on by faculty and included in the competency learning progression chart, individual faculty may not independently change the key learning activities and evaluation methods. 

    Further, selected assignment products may be used to create student portfolios as an expression of their comprehensive achievement of the desired learning outcomes. Finally, specification of key learning activities is an effective tool to identify content duplication and gaps.

    In one recent example within a nursing program, it was discovered that students were asked to perform three community assessments in three different courses using almost identical criteria. Faculty agreed that one community assessment was sufficient and thus freed up precious time for other learning topics. 

  Competency learning progression charts can be reviewed on a regular basis to incorporate new information and concepts, with the designated faculty group making decisions regarding changes. This practice is an exemplar of how curricular integrity can be balanced with the concept of academic freedom discussed earlier.

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