Critical Thinking Exercises: Case Study #1: Meadowvale University

Dr. Manuela Lopez is director and professor of Meadowvale University School of Nursing. Enrollment is 550 undergraduate and 85 graduate students. The teaching staff comprises 26 full-time faculty (19 doctorally-prepared, 7 masters-prepared) and 40 part-time faculty (22 masters-prepared, 18 baccalaureate). Approximately 30% of faculty members were hired in the previous 3 years. Dr. Lopez is an active member of the university administrators group, the community health administrators association, and nursing professional organizations. She keeps abreast of changes in nursing, nursing education, and health care. She has excellent relationships with faculty members, university administrators, and clinical and professional colleagues. The undergraduate curriculum was first implemented 15 years ago. Since then, there have been minor curriculum revisions, but the philosophical approaches, goals, and basic structure of the largely behaviorist curriculum have remained unchanged. Although faculty have attended workshops and conferences on new and evolving educational paradigms, some are generally comfortable with the present curriculum. Some act more in accordance with a caring, humanistic-educative approach, and others are strong feminists. Some advance ideas of social justice in the courses they teach. Members of the School of Nursing were shocked when, for the first time, nearly 20% of graduates failed the NCLEX. Those graduates were public in voicing their displeasure with the School. Along with this, there has been informal feedback from a few employers that Meadowvale graduates are having difficulties beyond those experienced by new graduates of other schools. Further, there has been increasing pressure from the university’s central administration to increase the number and size of research grants and the publication rate of faculty. The school is 3 years away from an accreditation review and Dr. Lopez thinks that the time might be right for discussion about curriculum development. She calls a special meeting to discuss the possibility of curriculum development. 1. What factors or influences would propel Meadowvale nursing faculty toward curriculum development? What might be the objections and responses to these? 2. What could be the sources of support for curriculum development? Sources of resistance? 3. How would Dr. Lopez’s initiation of the idea of curriculum development influence faculty members’ decision about whether or not to proceed? 4. What is a suitable timeframe for curriculum revision in light of the reasons for curriculum development and the upcoming accreditation review? 5. How would Dr. Lopez assess faculty members’ acceptance of the need for curriculum development and their readiness to support the process? Case Study # 2: Rosemount University School of Nursing Rosemount University School of Nursing has offered baccalaureate and masters programs in nursing for 40 years. Most faculty have kept abreast of current curriculum paradigms and teaching-learning methods in order to deliver the “best” nursing program to qualified students. Faculty development through attendance at occasional in-house meetings or attendance at local, national, or international conferences has been considered important to most of the faculty. However, an ongoing faculty development program was not implemented due to resistance from a few “senior” faculty members. Recently, Dr. Angela Fabatini, director of the school, attended a national meeting of baccalaureate nursing program deans and directors. One recommendation, among many others developed by the group, was that faculty development include activities intended to facilitate participation in curriculum development. On returning from the conference, Dr. Fabatini called a faculty meeting. A review of faculty development activities was undertaken. The results revealed a fragmented approach to faculty development, sporadic faculty attendance, and very little attention to the specifics of the curriculum process. Inexperienced faculty members wanted an ongoing faculty development program to assist them in revising the present baccalaureate-nursing program. Two “senior” experienced faculty members voiced their resistance to this activity, claiming that the past practice of ad hoc meetings was satisfactory and that there was no necessity for change, since the program is accredited.

1. What are the strengths and limitations in the present faculty development system?

2. What strategies might be instituted to encourage participation in faculty development?

3. When agreement is reached to undertake faculty development for curriculum change, what would be the goals of this activity? What development activities could be instituted?

4. What responses might be appropriate for those faculty members resisting change?

5. If the Rosemount University faculty decide to proceed with curriculum development, which change theory would be useful, and how could it be used?

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