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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Teaching and Learning

The Role of Curriculum Mapping and Assessment in Health Science Education

What is more important – Teaching OR Learning?
It would be nice to believe that when someone says they “taught” someone something one could reasonably infer that the other person “learned” that something. In today’s society however we know that this is often not the case. How many times do we leave class thinking “What on earth was the professor trying to convey today?” or, take a prerequisite class just to find that we still aren’t prepared for our capstone major course. These are everyday instances of when students are being “taught” but the learning piece has been lost in translation. 

How do health science programs track learning? 
In some industries this failure to learn may be acceptable. Maybe what was on the board was less important than the story behind it, or the experience gained in the group project gave more insight than the pages in the text book. However there is one industry in particular where failure to learn the material cannot and will not be tolerated. I am speaking of the field of Health Science (Nursing, Pharmacy, Physician Assistant, Dental, etc). No one wants a doctor who eased their way through medical school. Health Science programs aren’t able to pass out A’s for effort! So how do we know that our health science professionals receive a quality education that teaches them to provide the treatments and procedures required in their field? Fortunately schools dealing with Heath Science are held to a higher set of standards insuring that students gain the skills needed. These standards apply not only to the students going through the program but more specifically to the institutions in which they are enrolled. This helps ensure that what students need to learn is actually getting covered. Accreditation simply refers to the process that holds these institutions accountable for covering what they say they will cover. This process is measured through a series of assessments and standards to ensure that the students actually know what they need to know. Each health science program comes with their own unique set of requirements and expectations. They need to meet the curriculum expectations of their accreditation review boards, pay attention to which students need extra help, and make sure that students are learning all that they need to know. Forward thinking programs align what is being taught in the classroom to the standards defined by the institution’s accrediting body and the content that will be covered on the end of program or board exams. They do this by mapping their curriculum, administering assessments and analyzing the scores to seek out problem areas. This process curriculum mapping and performance review allows them to target certain aspects of the curriculum that students are not picking up on, and either change what they are doing or add to their current curriculum plan. 

They are responsive and accountable.
 They implement a living curriculum that is mapped to their standards and respond to student performance results through assessments that are also mapped to the same standards


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