Curriculum Design

Samuel Merritt University School of Nursing has a curriculum design for a one year degree nursing program for those who have a Bachelor’s degree in a field not related to nursing.  It is offered the university’s Oakland campus and at the San Francisco Peninsula Learning Center. It incorporates five terms of intensive rapid study. The program’s goals, objectives, and foundational concepts are the same as those of the traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. The program is known as the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) (“School of Nursing | Samuel Merritt University”, n.d.).

The curriculum design uses the prescriptive models. Prescriptive models are mainly apprehensive with the objectives of a procedure or decision rather than the means of achievement. The model seeks to understand a situation in terms of the purpose the institution seeks to attain, the experiences that have a likelihood of attaining the purposes, the best way to organize the experiences for them to be most effective, and the means of telling that the purposes are being achieved. The purpose is the most important aspect of the model. Its statements are known as objectives and are usually written in terms of behavioral improvement among learners in forms that can be easily measured. A set of objectives are therefore written down for every course being offered (Kolb & Kolb, 0).

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Its main difficulties are that it is difficult and time consuming to put up objectives. The model also restricts the learning of the students to skills that can be expressed using behavioral objectives. Processes of acquiring values, problem solving, and higher order thinking are mostly excluded since they cannot be expresses in behavioral terms. To deal with this weaknesses, the Samuel Merritt University School of Nursing uses the Kolb’s (1984) four-stage experiential learning theory which recognizes the importance of subsidiary activities such as projects based on common multimedia data such as commercial advertisements, cross word puzzles, and games.

Kolb’s four-stage experiential learning theory comprises of immediate experiences (doing), basis for observations (seeing), reflections (feeling), and abstract concepts formed through observation and reflections (thinking). The theory notes that any of the processes can be experienced first. The process should, however, be observed as a continuous spiral (Kolb & Kolb, 0).

According to Kolb, experience is transformed into concepts through continuous reflection. These concepts are then used for choice of new experiences and experimentation. The first step involves a learner’s active involvement in the experimentation process. It is known as the concrete experience step and involves the learner’s involvement with a learning situation in the laboratory or field. The learner then consciously reflects on the experience in the reflective observation stage. The abstract conceptualization step, stage three, is the stage that involves the learner’s attempts to conceptualize a model or theory of what is observed. The final step, active conceptualization, is the testing of a theory or model or the preparation for a forthcoming experience (Kolmos & Kofoed, 2003).

Kolb further identified four learning styles that enabled learners to learn better. Assimilators, learn better when they are presented with theories that are sound and tested to consider. Second, convergers are better learners once presented with practical applications of a concept to consider. Third, accommodators are better learners once given more hands on experiences. Finally, divergers perform better once they are allowed to observe and collect lots of information regarding a piece of knowledge.

The theory fits well with many students due to the fact that it deals with the various student types. It enables students to learn better at whichever level they prefer by the exposure to the various levels of learning. The achievement of critical thinking skills is a necessary outcome for students in the nursing field. Kolb’s learning theory puts a good level of emphasis on the need for experience. The theory conceptualizes the learning process in such a way that the differences in students’ response to different teaching approaches can be identified.

The Learning style inventory is a nine question questionnaire that seeks to identify the best way to approach teaching with different students. The LSI measures the importance that each student puts on each of the four learning styles so that it can be emphasized in the future. Learning styles are dependent on various factors including heredity, past experiences and present environmental constraints (Kolmos & Kofoed, 2003).

Studies have shown that nurses have an evenly distributed combination of learning styles. This means that all the different delivery styles must be incorporated into the teaching process. Emphasis should, however, be put on experiential and participation should, however, be involved.

In conclusion, Kolb’s theory has been found to incorporate all the needs of students. It is therefore, one of the best methods that could be used to teach nurses. The theory also requires that students get exposed to real situations for accelerated progress. This enables nurses who have been taught through this method to have an advantage over others. It is evident that the previous exposure gives the students an upper hand and serves as prior experience. The nursing profession is therefore better placed with the Kolb’s theory in place as in the case of Samuel Merritt University School of Nursing (“Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Curriculum | Samuel Merritt University”, n.d.).


Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Curriculum | Samuel Merritt University. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2014, from

Kolb, A. Y., & Kolb, D. A. (0). The Kolb Learning Style Inventory—Version 3.1 2005 Technical Specifi cations.


School of Nursing | Samuel Merritt University. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2014, from

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