Charged with stimulating the educational community to think in new ways about teaching and learning, the NLN Nursing Education Advisory Council (NEAC) appointed the Task Group on Innovation in 2003. The purpose of the group was to enhance dialogue among faculty, students, nursing service colleagues, and communities and champion pedagogical research that documents the effectiveness of innovation. Most importantly, the group was to promote a national dialogue supportive of creativity and a reassessment of traditional pedagogical construction as outlined in Innovation in Nursing Education: A Call to Reform, approved as a position statement by the NLN Board of Governors in August 2003.
NEAC and the task group have used a variety of approaches to engage and challenge the nursing education community in this process. Following publication of the position statement, the task group issued an "Invitation to Dialogue" to deans, directors, and chairpersons, hoping to encourage faculty groups to dedicate time to the exploration of concepts of excellence and innovation and new ways to approach teaching.
In January 2005, the task group launched an electronic survey via the NLN website, asking faculty from across the country and in all types of nursing education programs about their perceptions regarding teaching, learning, and innovation. The content of the survey was based on elements in the NLN's position statement. During the month the survey was posted on the website, 219 nurse educators responded, representing faculty in all types of programs, from practical nurse to the doctoral level.
Faculty from associate degree programs comprised the largest cohort of participants (47 percent), followed by baccalaureate (25 percent), diploma (12 percent), master's (10 percent), practical nurse (5 percent), and doctoral (1 percent). A significant number of participants were veteran faculty; 59 percent reported experience in the nurse educator role of 16 years or more.
As the sample size is small, there is limited generalizability with respect to the survey findings. The data do, however, point to interesting observations and perceptions that challenge all educators to consider how to advance creativity, innovation, and true change in nursing education.
The survey addressed faculty perceptions about the organization of nursing curricula and the processes of teaching and learning. All respondents, regardless of the type of program in which they taught, reported curricula that were content laden, highly structured, and concentrated on measurable objectives. While respondents from prelicensure programs expressed these observations most frequently, faculty from graduate-level programs also affirmed these attributes. Respondents also reported that, in general, nursing schools are inflexible and prone to reinforce the exceedingly structured nature that prevails throughout most of nursing education. In addition, 60 percent of respondents agreed that it is their responsibility to ensure that all content in the curriculum is "covered."
This last statement illuminates the pressures--or burden--experienced by faculty in assuming responsibility for addressing the ever-expanding content in health care education. It also provides insight into the prevailing instructional strategy of classroom lecture inherent in many nursing education programs.
The nature of true reform may take shape in how we establish or redefine partnerships with those most involved in the teaching and learning experience. More than half of all respondents indicated that they do not partner with students to design educational innovation. Baccalaureate and associate degree faculty were the least likely to partner with students in educational redesign, while graduate-level faculty reported greater frequency. …