A Flipped Curriculum?

Posted on November 2, 2016 by


This concept recently came across my eDesk by way of a report about the University of Vermont College of Medicine initiating a curriculum reform that eliminates all lecture courses, replacing them with videos that students watch on their own time, and attending active learning classes in which an instructor facilitates small group work to solve problems based on finding the latest and the best evidence.  This seems to be to be a variation on the “problem based learning” pedagogy that was a rage a couple of decades ago – one that to my knowledge was rarely, if ever, adopted to the full extent in medicine, let alone in nursing.  The report I read does not give full details, but it is an interesting concept that gives all of us a lot of food for thought.

Certainly nursing pedagogies need drastic and far-reaching reform. They tend to still be based on old medically-driven models, and teaching and learning modalities in common use are increasingly failing to meet the needs of students who grew up as “digital natives” – already well versed in a digital environment that provides almost instant access to all sorts of information – worthwhile or not. I suspect that the concept of a flipped curriculum may not be a magic formula for far-reaching change, but even the image as described in this brief report started me to thinking about many possibilities that any instructor could initiate in their own classrooms – integrated student-centered learning, problem-solving and discovery, and providing an avenue for students to bring their own ideas to bear on a problem.

To me, one of the most important skills or capabilities that we need to facilitate in our teaching and learning is the capacity for integrating all nursing patterns of knowing in responding to each unique, unexpected situation.  If this is the desired basis of our nursing pedagogies, then why not bring various creative ideas into our classrooms?

One of the most frequent hesitancies that I hear expressed by faculty when discussing new models for teaching is a fear that students will not respond favorably. Naturally as teachers we want (and even need) favorable student responses to our teaching!  As a teacher who typically uses approaches that are entirely unfamiliar and “new” to students, I set the stage at the very beginning.  I spend time in the first class explaining the basis, the rationale for the teaching and learning activities we will be using, grounded in values that I am quite sure we can reasonably assume that we share – empowerment for all, creating unity and community in nursing, and demystification of the teaching and learning processes.  I continually explain and reinforce these values and the actions that arise from them, inviting everyone to discuss and create new ways to bring these values into action!

The “flipped” curriculum offers images of small and big shifts that we can at least consider!  Let us know your ideas, and perhaps together we can create a movement that is consistent with our intention to manifest nursing in all we do!

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