Nursing Education

Using the Curriculum Map Template for AACN Essentials Success

A short video clip about the importance of getting faculty engaged in curriculum mapping in a meaningful and purposeful way

Let Alverno College nursing faculty walk you through how they’re crosswalking their curriculum, identifying gaps, and designing assessments to meet the new AACN Essentials.


Peg Rauschenberger:

We’re using a template that we found on AACN Connect. If you have not gone on there, it is a treasure trove of things beyond the Essentials, but it’s always a place where faculty share all sorts of innovative things, so make that a regular stop when you’re doing some web searching, AACN Connect. Why recreate a template when you can use one or tweak one that’s already been created, so we found that, and we’re doing our mapping on it.

And if you go to AACN Connect in the search, just type in Essentials mapping template, and they’ll come up for you. There are wonderful ones for both the pre-licensure and graduate, because remember this isn’t just a pre-licensure thing, it is for graduate and DMP programs as well, so it is a bit daunting when you think about it. But again, not as much work as it sounds like. The template we’re using has a column for the domain, the second column lists all those competency statements. I’m hoping you are all at least familiar with the Essentials, by the time we’re having this particular conversation, but it has the competency statements. And then the third column lists the sub-competency. Those are different for pre-licensure versus graduate.

The next two columns, I’m not supposed to be watching the chat, but I’m going to repeat AACN Connect is where you find the template. The next two columns are then repeated several times. Course outcome is one and student assessment is the other, the faculty then go through the domains and identify if they have a course outcome that incorporates a particular competency or sub-competency, and they enter it into the template. No particular course has to have all of these in them. You may only have a couple, so don’t panic that there’s a lot of empty space if you’re the faculty filling out that template. Next to the outcome, what we list is I, R, or A. Meaning, is it introduced in this course? Is it reinforced in this course? Or is it assessed for mastery in this course?

On rare occasions you can have all three in a particular course, but often if you’re talking about say, if you’re talking about nursing process or something like that, it’s introduced somewhere, it’s reinforced in several, and then ultimately as they’re an advanced student you assess that they have mastery over it. I’ll talk about this in minute, but in the student assessment column, we also have a list of codes that they can show how the assessment happens. Is it an exam, a presentation, a simulation, a case study, is it in clinical performance, et cetera. We don’t just check and say it was assessed. How did we go about it? Because as we’ve talked in other arenas, doing competency-based education means new ways of teaching and new ways of assessing, so let’s start adding a little variety to our curriculum. All right, now I’ll tell you one problem that we have encountered is that faculty think too hard about the competencies. I hope Ann is nodding, because they begin to see more of them in their course than is really possible.

And in some ways I get that. But just because something is mentioned, doesn’t mean it’s a true outcome in a course. And we all know that competencies are rarely exhibited in isolation, so most demonstrations integrate several competencies, sub-competencies. We have these competencies at Alverno that include analysis, and problem solving, and social interactions, and things like that. Let’s not get off on that, but you can’t do problem solving without analyzing something first, so that same is true with all of these competencies, they’re intertwined, so faculty tend to just like students read too much into questions on exams, sometimes faculty read too much. We have to say no, what is a true outcome of this course for your students? Okay. That’s a little challenge we have had. Once all the courses are mapped, it becomes very clear where there are gaps.

That’s your gap analysis, are there blanks all along the line? We don’t touch on that competency at all. Or is it introduced, introduced, introduced nobody ever reinforces it or really takes a look at their performance in it, so there are different kinds of gaps. Is it missing all together or are we not scaffolding it the way we need to. Once you’ve identified those gaps, that’s when the curriculum work begins, and that is more difficult. The mapping is a little tedious, but it’s thinking then about your curriculum and where you need to go with it and what you need to fill those gaps with. Again, I’m going to say it again. We have until 2024 to get going on this.