Giddens “Simplifies” Concept-Based Curriculum at Central Wyoming College

Student smiling working on laptop

At-A-Glance Facts

Central Wyoming College, located in Riverton, WY, offers an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program designed to be completed in four semesters. The ADN program is fully approved by the Wyoming State Board of Nursing and accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

Central Wyoming College assistant professor of nursing, Jenn McCartney, shares the changes her program has made to improve its concept-based curriculum and achieve high NCLEX® pass rates.

Central Wyoming College assistant professor of nursing, Jenn McCartney, is the epitome of the saying “it’s never too late for a change.”

After exploring various career paths, McCartney decided at age 38 she wanted to pursue her lifelong passion for nursing and enrolled in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Upon earning her BSN degree, she went on to obtain her master’s degree in healthcare administration.

McCartney worked as a hospital administrator until she was later approached by a CWC instructor to come teach at the college. After deciding she was up for yet another change, McCartney went back to school again, earned her Master of Science in Nursing degree, and began teaching at CWC. She admitted it was a big learning curve for her, but she was fortunate to have some help along the way.

“My colleagues are phenomenal,” McCartney said. “They all mentored me. I learned how to write classes, questions, content, and rubrics.”

As McCartney adjusted to being an educator, another change was on the horizon. Four years ago, her program switched to a concept-based curriculum with team-based learning in conjunction with a statewide initiative known as ReNEW (Revolutionizing Nursing Education in Wyoming).

McCartney explained that initially her program used Pearson’s concept-based curriculum three-bind set of books, but shortly after were looking for other options.

“We found that while Pearson books gave us a start, they were not complete for as deep as we wanted to take [students],” McCartney said. “I talked to the Director of Nursing here and said I don’t care for these books. I think they are scattered, the information in them conflicts from page to page, and they need a lot more work. I would much rather go back to Elsevier’s books, like Lewis, Lilley, and Potter – the ones that we had used for our curriculum. We found it wasn’t hard to look at oxygenation, for example, and go through and pull our subjects we wanted to teach, so we integrated all of Elsevier’s books into our program and did away with Pearson.”

CWC integrated Jean Giddens’ Concepts for Nursing Practice text into its curriculum as well which helped simplify the concepts and make the information easy to understand, McCartney said.

“Giddens lays everything out in a way that you can understand the concept and the interrelated concepts,” McCartney said. “It’s simplified. Then, if you teach it correctly it just really makes sense.”

In addition to using Elsevier texts in its concept-based curriculum, CWC instructors develop “learning guides” to make sure students are prepared for class. The learning guides are assigned to students one week prior to the due date and include required readings and preparatory work. When students come to class on the due date, they are given a 10-question Individual Readiness Assurance Test (IRAT) and a Team Readiness Assurance Test (TRAT). This serves as the student’s motivation to complete the learning guides.

“We found in the traditional curriculum, we’d say read this chapter, read this information, do this … then they would come to class and expect to have lecture and be taught, which is what we did,” McCartney said. “Now, with the way we teach concept-based learning to them in the team format, they know they have to do the work because they’ll have a test right off the bat. I believe our grades have improved exponentially over the past few years, so it’s worked well.”

CWC’s 2018 NCLEX® pass rate was 90% and its job placement rate for 2018 graduates was 100%.

Advice for faculty

McCartney encourages programs considering switching to a concept-based curriculum to make the leap.

“It makes sense,” McCartney said. “It’s evidence-based and I think it’s thorough. It’s a better educational method for the students to understand concepts.”