Using a developmental evaluation approach to create a supportive curriculum for first year students

Christine S. Chauvet, Maya R. Kalogirou, Olive Yonge


Background and objectives: First year students experience a significant transition when entering nursing school. The purpose of this research was to explore first year nursing students’ experiences to enhance and innovate the undergraduate nursing program at a large public Canadian university.

Methods: The Faculty of Nursing approached their curriculum redesign process utilizing a Developmental Evaluation (DE) framework. Nineteen first year students participated in semi structured interviews and focus groups where they discussed their personal experiences as well as the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the program. After thematic analysis of the data, recommendations were provided to the faculty administration to guide changes made to the new curriculum.

Results: Students appreciated opportunities where they could apply their knowledge to real-world situations. Students also expressed many sources of stress, such as inconsistency within and between courses, differing expectations, content, instruction style, and evaluation. They also voiced that there was a lack of communication and support from the Faculty and identified issues with grading systems.

Conclusions: The findings from this study highlighted the need to revise the nursing curriculum to provide more student support and foster a positive student-faculty relationship. The current structure of nursing programs has created competition among students, causing a greater focus on obtaining higher grades than on meaningful learning. Integrated learning with authentic experiences was best received by first year students and provided for a collaborative environment. Finally, the findings from this study highlight the opportunities created by utilizing a DE approach to evaluate and innovate nursing curricula.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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