Introduction to Curriculum Development Ideology and Influences In Nursing Education

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Ideology and Influences In Nursing Education on Curriculum Development

Introduction to Curriculum Development Ideology and Influences In Nursing Education

Introduction to Curriculum Development  In Nursing Education, Curriculum Ideologies In Nursing Education, Influence of Curriculum Ideologies on Nursing Education.

Introduction to Curriculum Development  In Nursing Education

    The topic of curriculum development and redesign remains a focal point for educators in nursing and other fields. To achieve desired education outcomes in service to society, a curriculum that optimizes student and faculty performance is required. 

    The collective faculty has responsibility for creating an effective, efficient, and contemporary curriculum that prepares graduates to achieve professional practice standards at each level of education to improve the health and wellbeing of the populations served. 

    The National League for Nursing (NLN) has outlined expected competencies for nurse faculty that include a strong focus on the role of educators in curriculum development, delivery, and evaluation (National League for Nursing (NLN), 2012). 

    In today’s world multiple factors affect and challenge institutions of higher education to demonstrate effectiveness in preparing graduates for entry into the workplace. At the same time, concerns regarding the cost of postsecondary education and a demonstrated shortage of nurse faculty are among other influencing factors and changes affecting the education of nurses.

    Creative, innovative models of curriculum delivery are being used in an effort to provide cost-effective, quality programming to an increasingly diverse population of students. Flexible curricula are being developed that allow universities to provide programs that quickly respond to the needs of the local, regional, national, and even international constituencies to which they are accountable. 

    Further, the lack of innovation in higher education has led to serious challenges to higher education effectiveness and achievement of important outcomes. A recent assessment (Kirschner, 2012) noted that in the United States there is $1 trillion dollars in student debt during a time when the job market for college graduates is one of the worst. 

    In 2010 the United States ranked only twelfth of 36 developed countries in the number of college degrees held by individuals aged 25 to 34. As institutions of higher education reevaluate how to best achieve their stated missions and position themselves for the future, it is apparent that sweeping changes in higher education are affecting the development and delivery of curricula. 

    Nurse educators in academia need to be actively involved in creating cost-effective, comprehensive curricula (Broome, 2009; National League for Nursing (NLN), 2012; Valiga & Ironside, 2012).The increase in student diversity provides opportunities and challenges for curriculum development as well. 

    Curricula must be flexible to accommodate work schedules; offer diversity in courses and programs, including distance education options; emphasize cultural sensitivity, leadership, delegation, and negotiation skills; promote oral and written communication and information technology skills; and enhance decision making skills (Allen & Seaman, 2010; American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), 2009; Jones & Wolf, 2009; Levitt, 2014; Phillips, Shaw, Sullivan, & Johnson, 2010; Valiga, 2012).

    The quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of a curriculum in achieving the desired outcomes for a given program of study is of increasing importance to nursing and other health professions. 

    These elements include the institution’s mission, vision, and values and those of the school of nursing; professional values and the beliefs, values, and expertise of the faculty; the school of nursing philosophy and organizing or conceptual framework; end-of-program outcomes and competencies; level competencies; curriculum design; courses, teaching strategies, and learning experiences; and resources needed to implement the curriculum.

    This chapter provides an overview of curriculum ideologies, a historical perspective on definitions of curriculum and curriculum development, and descriptions of the elements that compose a curriculum, including curriculum models. The process of curriculum development within a changing environment along with the role of faculty is described. 

    The influence of selected reports, recent evidence related to education methods, and priority related topics that require significant changes in approaches to nursing education curricula to ensure that nurses are prepared to meet current and evolving health care needs are addressed.

Curriculum Ideologies In Nursing Education

    A common understanding of how a discipline and a school and its faculty consider the term curriculum is crucial to development of a comprehensive curriculum that is current, consistent, and congruent. Understanding the underlying principles and assumptions on which a curriculum is created enhances the structure, processes, and outcomes of that curriculum plan. 

    Schiro (2013) proposes the term curriculum ideologies to describe the underlying beliefs and philosophy of educators, and identifies four major approaches to education. The four ideologies are Scholar Academic, Social Efficiency, Learner Centered, and Social Reconstruction. 

    Each of these ideologies has evolved from rich traditions in the field of education and all have the potential to enhance society; however, the approaches and central values of the various ideologies are quite different. 

    A brief description of the four ideologies reveals some of the frequently reported issues of debate that arise when faculty engage in curriculum development or curriculum revision activities.

    The Scholar Academic ideology is organized around the concept of academic disciplines. Adherents believe that learning should be centered on a growing knowledge of the discipline by novices and expansion of that knowledge base by those more expert. 

    A discipline’s knowledge includes ways of thinking, conceptual frameworks, traditions, and specific content (Schiro, 2013, p. 4). A hierarchical relationship flows from the scholar to the teacher to the student, who is the discoverer, user, and consumer of new knowledge. A Scholar Academic approach focuses on ensuring that the curriculum reflects the essence of the discipline.

    Social Efficiency ideology focuses on service to society through preparing students to meet the needs of society through their knowledge-based work contributions and through productive lives that enhance societal functioning (Schiro, 2013, p. 5).

    A curriculum reflecting the Social Efficiency ideology relies on a stimulus response model that is characterized by faculty creating terminal objectives, and attending to the type and sequencing of learning experiences and to the extent to which learners are able to meet the identified priority societal needs.

    The Learner Centered ideology focuses on individuals rather than society as a whole, with the belief that talents and abilities should develop naturally and in harmony with individuals’ unique characteristics and preferences. 

    Within this ideology, individual learning goals become the desired learning outcomes and the role of the educator is to create an environment that stimulates growth through social interactions and learner creation of meaning for themselves (Schiro, 2013, p. 6).

    The final curriculum ideology is Social Reconstruction. The major driving force of those who embrace social reconstruction thinking is that education is the major factor to addressing and changing societal issues and injustices. 

    The goal of education within the social reconstruction frame is to facilitate creation of a new and more just society that benefits all members. As education is viewed from a social perspective, the focus is on meaning as influenced by cultural and other social experiences, with the goal of creating desired societal values that will improve society overall and thereby benefit individual members of society (Schiro, 2013, p. 6). 

    As a profession, nursing is increasingly focused on contributions that will improve society and health for all, requiring inclusion of skill building for nurses to achieve these goals.

Influence of Curriculum Ideologies on Nursing Education

    There are examples of nursing curricula that reflect all of the ideologies, with the potential exception of Learner Centered ideology because of the required focus on demonstrated competencies as established by the State Boards of Nursing to maximize the success of graduates in passing the licensing examination. 

    However, strong and growing support for the use of learner-centered pedagogy strategies is dramatically influencing nursing education and is described later in this chapter.

    Scholar Academic ideology is prominent in many schools of nursing and influences both the curriculum as well as the hierarchy of perceived value of faculty contributions (e.g., tenure track researchers versus practice track or clinical experts as a common exemplar). 

    Curricula within this category tend to be closely tied with medical or clinical specialties and are consistent with current practice patterns and health care organization structures (e.g., service lines). Some of the implications of this ideological stance position faculty as the experts with knowledge who make many of the decisions regarding what is to be learned, when it is to learned, and in what manner. 

    Thus, use of learner-centered strategies and learner engagement might be considerably lower in programs that embrace the Scholar Academic ideology model, as compared with schools of nursing that implement other curricular ideologies. The Scholar Academic ideological foundation is most apparent in research-focused institutions as compared with those whose mission is primarily focused on teaching and service.

    In response to the increased expectations for accountability from institutions of higher education along with other factors identified in Chapter 5, the Social Efficiency ideology model has become more evident in many schools of nursing. 

    How are professional curricula, such as that found in nursing and the health professions, being affected and what are the implications from a Social Efficiency ideology for faculty in redesigning a content laden curriculum? 

    Restructuring and reforms in the health care system are rapidly changing the focus of nursing curricula, as graduates must learn to deliver care within a health care environment that is focusing more and more on transitional care and the primary health care needs of individuals. 

    At the same time, there are calls to restructure basic tenets of various societies through education to address social, financial, and other inequities. Nursing practice must be safe and cost effective across patient care settings and nursing education must continue to maintain standards and meet the requirements of state boards of nursing and national accrediting agencies while meaningfully addressing these crucial considerations and expectations.

    Social Reconstruction ideology has implications for developing student and faculty competencies in participating in and leading health care policy and advocacy. Health care disparities, global health issues, and population health issues are increasingly important issues that nurses can and should address as global leaders. 

    Designing learning experiences for students that foster competency in health policy advocacy is an essential program outcome in contemporary nursing education.

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