“Case for Learning-Centered. Curricula” by Candela et al.

This article provides readers with a comprehensive analysis of nurses’ role in permanently changing medical environment influenced by the dynamic transformation in technologies, methods of medical treatment, and the role that nurses play. New challenges require deep reformation of nurses programs and courses both at universities and other educational institutions that prepare future specialists in this realm.

As the authors note new demands for nurses fitting in the current medical treatment environment are constantly growing but modern nurses’ training curricula and syllabuses are falling short of providing necessary education and training and continue following the long-standing but outdated tradition of centering on content rather than on process. Therefore, Candela et al. raise very important questions interesting both for practitioners and theoreticians in the field.

The nurses’ education according to the authors should focus on nurses’ capacities building, the ability to take the appropriate decisions, planning, and orienting in difficult situations. This requires the introduction of the new models of education such as ‘learner-centered’ and ‘student-centered’ approaches.

‘Learner-centered approach’ focuses on active communication between students and teachers during the educational process and creating a reflective curriculum. It should be designed to meet the challenges of the informational age. Thus, the educational process shouldn’t be one-way and passive. Teachers should ask what students would like to learn rather than asking what they want to teach. The learner-centered approach focuses on the ability of students to perform different tasks and have active rather than passive knowledge. This requires that the focus of education changes from teachers’ formal needs to students. Practical ability to realize knowledge in real professional activities. Much more emphasis according to the authors should be placed on the new mechanism of students’ assessment. New approaches to self-assessment should be introduced to create a viable communicational and reflexive environment between students and their teachers. A new format of education creates motivated, committed, and conscious students who realize the educational process as the main source of their future professional success.

The main challenges that are connected with the transition to ‘learner-centered nursing education’ are applying changes to current curricula which are regarded by the majority of specialists as content-laden. Much of the content is really unnecessary thus more emphasis should be placed on information that is practicable. The process of creating curriculum as the authors note should follow the stages of creating the list of necessary literature of the course, exclusion of the superfluous and unnecessary content, content that should be used only in specific courses without its expansion on other courses, basic content that should be learned in all the courses.

The introduction of a new ‘learner-centered approach’ can be only effective if various development and stimulus for teachers are in place on the faculty. The authors of the article particularly focus on this point. Another issue discussed at length in this article is students’ outcomes, i.e. those skills, knowledge, capacities, etc, that faculty should develop in their students. By careful studying of professional material, nursing faculties should develop cognitive, practical, communicational, high-order thinking skills focusing on the personal needs of each student. A great merit of the authors is the comprehensive analysis of assessment-as-learning which introduces a two-faceted framework for learning and self-assessment. In conclusion, Candela et al. state the introduction of these new approaches should involve concerted efforts from all faculty staff including creating analytical and informational-gathering groups.

References

Candela, L., Dalley, K., Benzel-Lindley, J. A Case for Learning-Centered. Curricula.

Journal of Nursing Education. Thorofare: 2006. Vol. 45, Iss. 2; pg. 59, 8 pgs.