An Evidence-based Approach to Course and Syllabus Revision

Citation

Yensen, J. (July, 2016). An Evidence-based Approach to Course and Syllabus Revision. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 20(2). Available at http://www.himss.org/ojni

One evidence-based approach to the design and generation or revision of informatics courses is to merge different sources of stakeholder input, as shown below (Figure 1), followed by iterative rounds of a Delphi survey of the stakeholders from the course working group and the external experts:

Figure 1 Merging Stakeholder Input

  1. The course working group consists of internal faculty and instructional designers.
  2. Concept extraction consisted of creating PubMed searches for ‘nursing informatics’ and ‘health informatics’ and ‘nursing informatics competencies’ and ‘health informatics competencies’ followed by generating RSS feeds for these searches. A typical RSS feed is shown below. Each RSS feed is merged into a single feed and concepts extracted using a local installation of ConText.

Health informatics (n = 120,387)

Here is the RSS feed for the PubMed search on ‘health informatics’ filtered by a custom date range of 2011-2016.
The process is repeated for each of the relevant search strings and then the RSS feeds merged and analyzed to generate a tag cloud of concepts where relevance is indicated by concept font size and colour (Figures 2 and 3).

Nursing informatics (n = 1528)

Figure 2 Tag cloud for PubMed RSS feed for 'nursing informatics'

Merged informatics

Figure 3 Tag cloud for PubMed RSS feeds combined

The process is repeated for ‘health informatics competencies’ and ‘nursing informatics competencies’ and a merged feeds tag cloud is generated (Figure 4):

Figure 4: Merged feed tag cloud

After extracting and distilling the data from the merged RSS feeds, we see a priority ranking which potentially could be used for subject matter content in the new or revised informatics course (Table 1).

Table 1: Priority ranking of potential content

  1. External experts should be consulted depending upon the institution’s network and access.
  2. An environmental scan should be carried out of graduate level syllabi for survey type informatics courses for nursing and allied health professionals, as a point of comparison
  3. A scoping review of the literature for health informatics and nursing informatics for the years 2010-2016 is carried out using nursing and health related databases this literature base is mapped. In addition, it is possible to create RSS feeds from the top 50 journals publishing nursing and health informatics articles from SCImago. This allows for the monitoring of evolving themes and concepts. All of this material can be concept mapped, along with resources, using the free CmapTools.
  4. From these multiple sources of input, several rounds of a Delphi survey may be generated and sent to the stakeholders from the course working group and the external experts until no further consensus can be obtained. The resulting prioritized concepts will form the basis of the new or revised informatics course. Since this process now includes a merged RSS feed of the top 50 journals publishing health and nursing informatics articles it is an easy matter to re-analyze the concept extraction monthly or yearly, allowing continuous updating of the course, and, hence, continuous quality assurance.

Once the course blueprint has been developed as a course concept map, it is straightforward to develop a syllabus with learning activities and assessments that reflect the program and course learning objectives. In turn, the latter can be mapped to external accreditation agencies to ensure that the new or revised course meets or exceeds (Yensen & Landau, 2013) multiple accreditation criteria. This methodology is evidence-based and allows a systematic approach to the design and generation of new or revised courses that is free from “syllabus by voting” or accreditation criteria that are developed by panels trying to achieve consensus.

Furthermore, this process will generalize to many other graduate nursing courses and programs.

Reference

Yensen, J. A. P., & Landau, V. (2013). Meet and beat accreditation standards with convergent curriculum mapping. Paper presentation at the 19th Annual Sloan Consortium International Conference on Online Learning, Orlando, Florida, November 20-22, 2013.