Date of Award

12-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Nursing

Major Professor

Marian W. Roman

Committee Members

Joanne Hall, Carole Myers, Ralph Brockett

Abstract

The purpose of this case study was to describe how the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) standardized their nursing curriculum. A single research question was the focus of the study: “How did the ACCS develop its standardized nursing curriculum?” The sub questions were, “who were the key players in the process?”, “Who had the positions of power and dominance, and who did not?”, “Who were included and who were excluded in the process?”, “What were the reasons for inclusion and exclusion?”, and “What were the contextual elements that influenced the development of the curriculum?”

Data from multiple sources were gathered. Key players in the curriculum development process were interviewed. Measures to ensure rigor, reliability and validity included those methods recommended by Yin (2003). Reliability was enhanced by using a case study protocol and audit trail. Construct validity was determined by triangulating data sources and member checks. Internal validity was enhanced by pattern matching with extant theories. External validity was established by verifying to see if the case study supported the theoretical framework.

The data collected was aggregated in categories (Stake, 1995), and further categorized into time-ordered displays. Content analysis (Merriam, 1998) of the data revealed emergent themes. The data was subjected to pattern-matching (Yin, 2003) with extant theories. The themes were compared to Foucault’s (1977) theories of knowledge and power. A timeline was created, story lines revealed the following themes inherent in the curriculum development process: speed and stealth, uncertainty, lack of power, lack of knowledge and lack of choice.

The participants’ group dynamics matched with Tuckman’s (1965) group development stages of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. Comparison to a published curriculum development process model (Iwasiw, Goldenberg & Andrusyszyn, 2005) revealed that the actual curriculum development began with little preparation – the first eight stages in the model were bypassed. The program philosophy was created after the content was developed, and did not mesh with the curriculum. Power and knowledge relationships shifted from the administration to the faculty. Unanticipated gains included networking, sharing ideas and best practices. Weaknesses included admission criteria, loss of individuality, high student attrition, and issues with content allocation.

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