Lessons Learned: Nursing School Faculty Revamp Program Curriculum to Promote Student Engagement, and Systematic, Effective Validation of Student Competence throughout the Curriculum

Sunday, 8 November 2015: 11:00 AM

Cindy Ford, PhD, MSN, BSN, RN, CNE
Department of Nursing, Lubbock Christian University, Lubbock, TX, USA
Victoria Thornley, MSN, RN, CNE
Covenant School of Nursing, Covenant Health, Lubbock, TX, USA
Alicia Anger, MSN, RN
Covenant School of Nursing, Lubbock, TX, USA

Covenant School of Nursing (CSON) has a rich nursing education history encompassing more than 95 years of preparing novice registered nurses to enter the workforce confidently.  A hospital based program known for excellence in nursing education, CSON recently entered a formal a partnership with a local university department of nursing to allow a seamless articulation to the BSN degree.

In 2012, the faculty of the fourth (final) semester worked with Carrie B. Lenburg, EdD, RN to apply the Lenburg COPA model (Lenburg, 1999) and evidence based assessment methods into a clinical grading rubric to evaluate the impact on student learning engagement in the clinical setting and the subsequent outcome of increased perceived competence of the 4thsemester nursing students. The research results yielding evidence of themes reflecting student increased motivation to excel, greater proficiency, and clearer expectations was presented previously at STTI Nursing Research Congress in Brisbane, Australia.

Prior to 2012, the curriculum was based on components of the COPA model.  The positive outcome results from the 4thsemester research project coupled with a faculty desire to adjust the curriculum to promote increased student engagement and student evaluation measurement across the program, prompted the faculty to enhance the utilization of the COPA model program wide. A full curriculum redesign was conducted with extensive faculty involvement, workshops with Dr. Lenburg and Veronica Abdur-Rahman, PhD, RN, CNE, a nurse educator experienced with implementation of the COPA model with nursing programs. The overall goal was for the students and graduates to demonstrate the key conceptual pillars of the COPA model.

The lessons learned through the curriculum revision process have yielded a continuum of reactions and emotions ranging from challenging and frustrating, to rewarding and energizing. The purpose of today’s presentation is to speak to the rewards to be gleaned through a united faculty effort with the goal of student engagement and improved outcomes throughout the program.  The presentation will highlight challenges of implementation of this theoretical model to guide nursing education, the first-hand step by step experience of implementation of curriculum change and encouraging the faculty engagement of a theroetical model to guide the evaluation process.

The COPA model (Lenburg, et al., 2009) is designed and structured as a theoretical curriculum framework to promote competence for practice.  It is based on the philosophy of competency-based, practice-oriented methods and outcomes, and is organized around four essential conceptual pillars. One implication of the IOM report (1999; Greiner & Knebel, 2003) was that safe nursing care is equated with competence, and competency based instruction must receive more emphasis.  Additionally, implementation of the COPA model requires significant changes in traditional educational attitudes and methods in nursing programs to promote competent, effective, professional practice and patient safety (Lenburg et al., 2009).

Lenburg (2011) reports that the model or major components of it have been adopted effectively by many nursing programs. With guidance and persistence, faculty work through the challenges of change and ultimately observe remarkable differences in student performance. Alvin Toffler (1990) is often quoted as saying that the unprepared of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and re-learn. Lenburg (2011) states that nurse leaders, educators, and students are caught in the struggle of shifting from past practices to contemporary requirements with the need to unlearn and relearn.  This presentation of the curriculum redesign of the Covenant School of Nursing is one such story to be shared and learned from.