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Faculty Development for Curriculum Development

Faculty is the key players in the curriculum development and implementation processes: in decisions to be made, in committee work to be accomplished, and in teaching according to the tenets of a new or revised curriculum. Consequently, the success of curriculum change is largely dependent upon a knowledgeable and willing faculty.

Importantly, stakeholders such as clinicians, students, and administrators, who are part of the curriculum development process, should be included in faculty development activities. Participation in these learning opportunities will expand stakeholders’ knowledge and skills about curriculum processes, and strengthen their connection with the school of nursing.

What Is Meant by ‘Faculty Development’?

Faculty development can be conceived of as “the theory and practice of facilitating improved faculty performance in a variety of domains” (Halliburton, Marincovich, & Svinicki, 1988, p. 291). Traditionally, these domains have been personal and professional development, instructional development, and organizational development. Faculty development for curriculum development has not usually been included.

With a more specific focus on nurse educators, faculty development is defined as a “reso¬cialization for faculty into educative processes that are liberating for both the educator and student” (Rush, Ouellet, & Wasson, 1991, p. 123). However, faculty development related to curriculum change is more extensive. It addresses all aspects of the curriculum development process, as well as specific teaching methods, styles, and relationships with clinical experts, students, and colleagues. It should not be seen as a remedial activity, although some faculty may perceive the term as “discounting their level of knowledge or expertise, or as [unfavorable] commentary on the decisions they make about teaching, content, structure, or relationships” (Bevis, 2000, p. 117-118). Rather, faculty development is intended to enhance knowledge and skills. It should evolve naturally as part of the curriculum development process, and be congruent with the institutional philosophy, considerate of faculty needs, and supported by administrators and resources.

Where Does the Responsibility Lie?

The school of nursing dean or director has the responsibility to invest in and support the development of faculty in order to minimize knowledge gaps in curriculum development,

Teaching and research. Administrators act as change agents because of their formal leadership positions as deans or directors. They are the primary force in initiating change and assisting faculty in their development (Stolen, 1996).

Identification of specific faculty development needs can be undertaken by the curriculum leader, a committee, or by individual faculty members. Typically, it is a combination of these. It is the responsibility of faculty members to attend faculty development activities, be open to new ideas, participate hilly, and commit to employing new knowledge, skills, and perspectives as they develop and implement the curriculum.

Need for Faculty Development

Curriculum development, and ultimately implementation of a new curriculum, is an example of planned change: from a familiar curriculum to one that is initially undefined. Because of faculty members’ extensive involvement in curriculum development, implementation plans, and opportunities to introduce aspects of the new curriculum into the current one, the change to a new curriculum might be expected to occur easily and with full faculty support.

Unfortunately, the change is not always smooth. Successful curriculum change is generally dependent on the acquisition of new skills and perspectives by those who will implement the change. Curriculum change requires personal change and this does not happen in a scheduled, orderly fashion, since it evolves according to individual readiness. Faculty development is a means to support change and should take place concurrently with curriculum development. Accordingly, curriculum development mandates faculty development. In turn, faculty development supports curriculum development and change.