PREPARING FACULTY FOR THE CHANGE
Moving to a concept-based curriculum has numerous benefits
for students and faculty. But not surprisingly, switching to a new
curriculum requires additional work and responsibility up front.
The first step is for faculty and administrators to determine if the program is ready to take on a new curriculum. Do faculty have time to
attend workshops and meetings about the new curriculum on top of their existing workload? If the answer is yes, administrators will need to
focus their initial efforts on helping faculty understand why the conceptual approach is needed, what it is, and how it will be developed
at the institution. Here are some considerations and tips for accomplishing this:
- Faculty may be resistant to the change due to a fear of losing control over the way they have taught material for years. Faculty may
also cite that the current way they teach is already successful.
- Administrators need to be prepared to combat resistance by educating faculty on all the benefits that a concept-based curriculum
offers students and, eventually, every faculty member.
- Underscore that when faculty are not consistently using the conceptual, learner-centered approach, students will become confused
and frustrated, making the education disconnected.
- To help make the transition as easy as possible for faculty, consider partnering with Elsevier Education. Our team of educators can
help faculty understand the advantages of conceptual learning, and show them how to best implement a concept-based model in their course.
Choosing the concepts for a curriculum can be a daunting task. But it is a very important one. Initially, it may be helpful to find out what concepts are currently
being used by other nursing schools. Another good starting point is to explore the concepts found in notable nursing books, such as Jean Giddens' Concepts for Nursing
, and use those as a framework for building your concept-based curriculum.
Once faculty have identified a list of potential concepts, it is time to pare that list down to a constructive amount of concepts that will cover your program's
unique needs. When evaluating potential concepts, make sure to consider a concept's difficulty level, the unique makeup of your student body, and current nursing
Choosing and defining the concepts may lead to some conflict at times. To try and avoid this, implement a pre-defined process for choosing the concepts and share it
with the group up front. This will help group members work through any emotions and conflicts that might arise.
CREATING A CORE FACULTY GROUP
There are two rules of thumb when choosing your exemplars
: choose the exemplars that best represent the concept, and avoid using an excessive number of exemplars.
Choose the exemplars that best represent the concept.
Avoid using an excessive number of exemplars.
- Use those conditions with the highest incidence and prevalence.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a helpful starting point to identify priority exemplars.
- When too many exemplars are used, students are once again faced with content saturation and lose sight of the concept.
- Because faculty are used to a curriculum flooded with content, they might initially feel that too much content has been removed
from the curriculum. However, once students begin to apply the concepts to a number of new exemplars,even those not explicitly
covered in the classroom, the effectiveness of a concept-based curriculum will be realized.
STARTING A NEW PEDAGOGY
To help prevent never-ending changes that can emerge when developing a concept-based curriculum (a process that can lend itself to a “too many
cooks in the kitchen” situation), make sure to assemble a core group of faculty and administration to lead the curricular change.
- The core group should be deeply involved and educated in all aspects of a concept-based curriculum.
- Core group members should also be authorized to make decisions on a program-wide level versus an individual course level.
- The core group may also include an outside consultant, such as an Elsevier Academic Consultant, who can provide objectivity and guidance to faculty and administration.
- Departments that provide support courses must also be involved, and may be part of the core group.
The core group's job is to lead faculty and administration in developing the concepts, competencies, and exemplars across the curriculum.
to download a printable poster outlining the steps of developing a concept-based curriculum.
Appointing a small group to make the final curriculum decisions will provide more consistency, direction, and progress in the overall curriculum development process,
as it will help reduce unwanted overlap or omission of key exemplars and competencies.
BEGINNING CLINICAL CHANGES
Once the curriculum framework is designed, both classroom and clinical pedagogy changes must occur. When changing to a concept-based curriculum, educational models should
shift from a teacher-centered environment to a learner-centered environment.
Faculty will need time to experiment and become comfortable with using learner-centered activities. Some faculty will likely be uncomfortable with the change and fearful
of negative student evaluations as the change in pedagogy occurs. Here are some tips to combat this:
- Familiarize yourself with new teaching trends that support more active and conceptual learning by reading white papers from fellow nursing educators.
- Download the white paper on Active Learning in the Classroom written by Rachel Thompson, MSN, RN.
- Download the white paper on Flipping the Classroom written by Tim Bristol, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF.
- Download the white paper on Classroom Activities to Engage Students written by Michelle Deck, RN, MEd.
- Download the white paper on Concept-Based Curricula in Nursing: Perceptions of the Trend written by Susan Sportsman, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN
- Educate faculty on the ins and outs of a learner-centered pedagogy.
- Create an environment where faculty can be more at ease to experiment with new instructional approaches.
- Eliminate the pressure to achieve high-ranking student evaluations by reducing the focus placed on them while faculty are learning the new pedagogy.
- Understand that new approaches don't always go well the first time and often need to be revised during development.
- Enlist the help of outside resources, such as Elsevier's Academic Consulting Group, to help faculty develop and revise the teaching approach.
- Attend a workshop on Flipping the Classroom.
- Turn to resources like Mastering Concept-Based Teaching or Concepts for Nursing Practice for more ideas on building an active classroom.
Depending on the unique situation and needs of an institution, it may be helpful to gradually transition to the concept-based approach in clinical simulations.
- Prior to clinical simulation, give students a study guide specific to a concept. The study guide will direct reading, data collection, and performance of a focused assessment.
- During the clinical simulation, you may assign students a specific patient. However, to provide a point of comparison, you should also have students perform a focused
assessment for 1-3 additional patients, looking for potential or actual alterations in the assigned concept.
- The student will then present what was learned at the end of the clinical day.
In this situation, a student may still receive an individual patient assignment, but the focus of learning is on key points of the assigned concept
for that round of
simulation. In this way a transition from skill and task-based learning can occur gradually, allowing all key players to understand and trust the new approach.
Using the conceptual approach in the clinical setting and assessing multiple patients helps students better understand that not every patient will demonstrate every possible alteration
of the concept. This approach helps students develop solid assessment skills and build a strong foundation for clinical judgment.