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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The experience of faculty undergoing a major curricular paradigm shift in nursing education Tynski, Mary Louise


Nursing education is experiencing a revolutionary change where traditionally held belief systems are being challenged and replaced with beliefs and values that are based on an entirely different philosophy of teaching and learning. This results in a significant challenge for the teacher who must move from one paradigm to another to be able to function in the new world. The purpose of this study is to explore and describe the experience of nurse educators who are experiencing a major paradigm shift. The newness of this current paradigm shift has allowed for little research as yet being conducted concerning this shift from traditional to non-traditional ways of teaching. An ethnographic design was used to structure the data collection and analysis. The culture of nurse educators who had experience working in both paradigms was sampled and five interviews were held. All participants were employed at different educational institutions. Analysis of the data revealed a varied experience during the paradigm shift. In each participants experience, a small key group of individuals were responsible for initiating the paradigm shift. These individuals responded in a unique fashion to new ideas that they discovered or were presented with. The effect of exposure to new philosophical ideas profoundly affected the individuals, so that their world view was dramatically changed and their belief and values system was transformed. The experience of this key group was then communicated to colleagues who went through a process of evaluating the revolutionary concepts. Those faculty for whom there was relative congruence between their personal beliefs and values and the beliefs and values inherent in the non-traditional curriculum accomplished the paradigm shift relatively easily. The wider the divergence, the more difficulty faculty had in adjusting to the new paradigm. A dynamic continuum of acceptance was described, placing faculty along the continuum from acceptance to rejection of the new paradigm concepts. Faculty who totally rejected the new paradigm were considered to be threats to the successful implementation of the new curriculum. The process of paradigm shift involved a personal transformation of world view that required profound inner reflection. This process was aided by discussion with others and in some instances, formal facilitation. Implications for nursing education, research and practice are discussed.

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