8 March 2019 • Gideon Wille
Renewal of Nursing degree programme: time to celebrate the success
When you start something new, things will inevitable go wrong. The curriculum renewal for Nursing actually resulted in bad NSE scores. However, this renewal was required to update the curriculum and align it with developments in the labour market. Now the tide has turned: an accreditation committee with educational experts and labour market specialists is full of praise.
“I did have some sleepless nights in the last few years,” explains education manager Meralda Slager about the change process in Nursing. All Nursing degree programmes in the Netherlands began the joint implementation of a new curriculum. For Meralda, the curriculum renewal was also a reason to research if the lecturers could work differently. We opted for a results-based approach, in which feedback from staff members to each other and evaluations from students play an important role.
“We began working this way because this is how it’s done in the professional field, for example in neighbourhood care,” explains Meralda. “It is a modern way to do things. I don’t think it’s my role as manager to tell people what to do. I want staff members to sit down together and think about what quality means for our degree programme and I want the lecturers to discuss this with the students. We started in 2014, but this process takes time. Now we are where we want to be. The accreditation committee complimented us on forming results-oriented teams.”
No more lectures
The curriculum renewal wasn’t always welcomed by the students. Meralda: “We chose an activating form of education, which means there are no more formal lectures. The students who came from senior secondary vocational education and training, which is a growing group, weren’t very happy about that. This was reflected in the NSE (National Student Survey). We learned from this experience; we have to explain clearly why we chose this form of education.”
During the visitation by the accreditation committee, when our less than stellar NSE results came up, we discovered that satisfied students didn’t fill out the NSE. I think that lecturers should engage more in conversation with students to complete the NSE. Lecturers sometimes said: if you are unhappy, just fill out the NSE. But you could also say: if you are satisfied, then complete the NSE. However, I am very happy that, just like other universities of applied sciences, we now have an institution-wide campaign to encourage students to fill out the NSE.”
The accreditation committee was very pleased with the developments in Nursing and we hope this will result in a more favourable NSE result. The committee was very pleased with: “the way that the lecturers talk to each other about quality, the high degree of professional self-managing and as a result the establishment of a culture of quality.”
The learning communities also received compliments: learning communities are composed of lecturers, students and professionals that address practical issues. There was also praise for the way in which Nursing involves patients in its degree programme. Meralda: “We call that ‘doing an internship with the patient’. First-year students spend a year with a senior or someone who is chronically ill. This allows them to discover what it’s like to be a patient.”
Despite the stumbling blocks along the renewal process and the resulting sleepless nights, Meralda was very confident about the visitation. The result exceeded expectations. “When we received the feedback from the panel, I was speechless. I expected us to get a passing grade, but it was a great surprise to see that we had done so well in so many areas.”
The accreditation committee interviewed student Yvanke
Yvanke Huinen was one of the students who answered questions from the accreditation committee. “I didn’t expect it to be so serious. Although it was quite official, the atmosphere was very open. They asked in-depth questions, also when things weren’t clear, until they understood exactly how everything worked. We clearly outlined the positive points of our degree programme. After our conversations they saw that the NSE results alone weren’t everything.
Meralda Slager (education manager for the Nursing degree programme) had a few sleepless nights, but it all worked out in the end.