Types of Curriculum Its Development and Role of Faculty In Nursing Education

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Nursing Education and Types of Curriculum and Role of Faculty In Its Development

Types of Curriculum  Its Development and Role of Faculty In Nursing Education

Types of Curriculum In Nursing Education, Curriculum Development in Nursing Education, Role of Faculty in Curriculum Development In Nursing Education.

Types of Curriculum In Nursing Education

    Regardless of the ideological interpretation of curriculum, several types of curricula may occur concurrently. The official (or legitimate) curriculum includes the stated curriculum framework with philosophy and mission; recognized lists of outcomes, competencies, and learning objectives for the program and individual courses; course outlines; and syllabi. 

    Bevis (2000) stated that the “legitimate curriculum . . . [is] the one agreed on by the faculty either implicitly or explicitly” (p. 74). These written documents are distributed to faculty, students, health care practice partners, and accrediting agencies to document the planned curriculum, including what is to be taught and expected learning outcomes and competencies at program completion.

    The operational curriculum consists of “what is actually taught by the teacher and how its importance is communicated to the student” (Posner, 1992, p. 10). This curriculum includes knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) emphasized by faculty in the classroom and clinical settings.

    The illegitimate curriculum, according to Bevis (2000), is one known and actively taught by faculty yet not evaluated because descriptors of the behaviors are lacking. Such behaviors include “caring, compassion, power, and its use” (p. 75).

    The hidden curriculum consists of values and beliefs taught through verbal and nonverbal communication by the faculty. 

    Faculty may be unaware of what is taught through their expressions, priorities, and interactions with students, but students are very aware of the “hidden agendas” of the curriculum, which may have a more lasting influence than the written curriculum. The hidden curriculum includes the way faculty interact with students, the teaching methods used, and the priorities set (Bevis, 2000; Posner, 1992)

    The null curriculum (Bevis, 2000) represents content and behaviors that are not taught. Faculty need to recognize what is not being taught and focus on the reasons for ignoring those content and behavior areas. Examples include content or skills that faculty think they are teaching but are not, such as clinical reasoning. As faculty review curricula, all components and relationships need to be evaluated.

Curriculum Development in Nursing Education

    From an historical perspective, how nurse educators approached curriculum development was greatly influenced by the work of Bevis. Bevis defined curriculum as “those transactions and interactions that take place between students and teachers and among students with the intent that learning takes place” (2000, p. 72). 

    Bevis challenged nurse educators to move from what she termed the Tylerian behaviorist technical paradigm of curriculum development to one that focuses on human interaction and active learning, and incorporates a focus on students’ and teachers’ interactions. 

    Since Bevis’ time, several educational scholars in nursing have extended these concepts, most notably Diekelmann and Diekelmann (2009) and Ironside (2014).

    The nursing curriculum is often based on current practice, accreditation standards, regulatory requirements, and faculty interests, which leads to lack of curricula standardization. New opportunities abound to foster collaborative debate and dialogue on a number of issues, including how to accomplish the following goal:

 • Enhance students’ delegating, supervising, prioritizing, clinical reasoning, decision-making, and leadership skills to effect change.

 • Focus on health promotion, disease prevention, and care transitions to improve outcomes in health care disparities across health care settings.

 • Enhance student–faculty–preceptor interactions in the learning process.

 • Design clinical models that allow for student immersion in the practice setting.

 • Develop learner-centered environments.

 • Use evidence-based research and nursing practice to deliver efficient and effective care.

 • Integrate culture of safety concepts, including care coordination and transitions, in specifically designed interprofessional education and collaborative practice experiences.

 • Focus on patient-centered care within the overarching “tripleaim” goal of improving the patient care experience (including quality and satisfaction); improving the health of the populations; and reducing the per capita cost of health care (Berwick, Nolan, & Whittington, 2008).

 • Expand culturally sensitive nursing practice with a focus on reducing health disparities.

     As Valiga (2012) summarized: “Nurse educators must be proactive, anticipate the future, and not wait until history tells the story of our times. We must act despite uncertainty, and we must be innovative and scholarly as we shape the future of nursing education. Transformation is not easy but it is desperately needed. . . .” (Valiga, 2012, p. 432). 

    The need to craft a national agenda for nursing education research is believed to be crucial to support the necessary transformation in nursing education (Valiga & Ironside, 2012).

Role of Faculty in Curriculum Development In Nursing Education

    The development of curricula has historically been the responsibility of faculty, as they are the experts in their respective disciplines and the best authorities in identifying the knowledge and competencies students need to acquire by graduation. 

    The NLN’s Scope of Practice for Academic Nurse Educators (National League for Nursing, NLN, 2012) outlines nurse educators’ responsibility for “formulating program outcomes and designing curricula that reflect contemporary health care trends and prepare graduates to function effectively in the health care environment” (National League for Nursing, NLN, 2012, p. 18).

    As the emphasis for designing contemporary and cost effective curricula continues to increase, so does the need to involve a broader community of stakeholders in the curriculum development process. Practice disciplines such as nursing are actively engaging a diverse array of stakeholders in curriculum design, development, implementation, and evaluation. 

    The desire to increase engagement can and does add to the complexity of the development process and the ability to alter curricula in a timely manner. To address the need to create curricula that are responsive to workforce expectations requires faculty to develop curricula that are flexible in design, open to broader interpretation as expectations change, and capable of being implemented using a variety of different methodologies.

    Traditionally, curriculum development has been built on the concepts of frameworks, objectives, and closely orchestrated learning experiences. This approach envisions curriculum development as a logical, sequential process. Although some of this structure is necessary to plan and develop curricula, the more contemporary approach shifts the emphasis from an epistemological to an ontological orientation (Doane & Brown, 2011; Ironside, 2014). 

    An epistemological orientation to education is focused on knowledge, or the “content to be covered.” An ontological orientation to the educational process is more learner-centered and focused on the student’s “way of being a nurse” (Doane & Brown, p. 22). In this shift in philosophical orientation, knowledge is applied for the purpose of facilitating the learner’s transformation into a nursing professional. 

    The move from epistemology to ontology has a profound effect on how curriculum is designed and the teaching–learning strategies chosen to help students think like a nurse and develop competence in their practice.

    Nursing faculty have come to approach curriculum development from an outcomes perspective, rather than the traditional teaching process orientation used in the delivery of nursing curricula. 

    Focusing on learning as the product (outcome), the emphasis is placed on how students can use knowledge to practice competently in changing and often uncertain clinical situations. This approach assumes that both students and faculty have some latitude in individualizing the learning experience and related processes used in creating knowledge.

    Traditionally, faculty autonomy has been closely tied to curriculum; in fact, faculty are considered to “own” the curriculum. This means faculty are accountable for assessing, implementing, evaluating, and changing the curriculum to ensure quality and relevance in programs. 

    In today’s educational climate the value of education is measured against job marketability. In the discipline of nursing, emphasis has been placed on what knowledge and competencies graduates have on completion of their programs as it relates to the expectations of the settings and roles within which they will practice.

    Inevitably, when curriculum development is undertaken, the concepts of academic freedom versus curricular integrity arise. As suggested by the prior statements, faculty are collectively charged with using their significant expertise and diverse talents to construct curricula that will produce successful, high quality graduates. 

    Curricular integrity is achieved through faculty striving for, but not always arriving at consensus decisions. Communication throughout the curriculum is a key determinant in the quality and consistency of the curriculum and the student experience. A statement from the American Association of Colleges and Universities specifically addressed this topic.

    There is, however, an additional dimension of academic freedom that was not well developed in the original principles, and that has to do with the responsibilities of faculty members for educational programs. 

    Faculty are responsible for establishing goals for student learning, for designing and implementing programs of general education and specialized study that intentionally cultivate the intended learning, and for assessing students’ achievement. 

    In these matters faculty must work collaboratively with their colleagues in their departments, schools, and institutions as well as with relevant administrators. 

    Academic freedom is necessary not just so faculty members can conduct individual research and teach their own courses, but so they can enable students through whole college programs of study to acquire the learning they need to contribute to society (American Association of Colleges and Universities, 2006, p. 1)

    This statement emphasizes that academic freedom does not mean that individual faculty can arbitrarily or unilaterally decide what they will teach in their classroom, but that faculty, through faculty governance processes, must work collaboratively to determine curriculum and then are expected to uphold that collective decision to achieve curricular integrity and effectiveness.

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