MANAGING A STUDENT-CENTRED PROGRAM REVISION PROJECT INVOLVING DEEP CHANGE: THE CASES OF HIGHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN NURSING AND BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION

P.P. Morin1, J. Goudreau2

1Université du Québec en Outaouais (CANADA)
2University of Montreal (CANADA)
This article investigates methodologies to facilitate deeper changes in the context of regular program revisions. Using the cases of an existing, mature program and one in the process of being revised, conceptual bases will be explored and their practical application described. The implementation of innovative student-centered programs, competency and program-based, will specifically be addressed.

The design of educational programs has been heavily influenced by globalization and technological as well as pedagogical advances. Distance learning has become a reality for many major universities and its popularity has been one of the major drivers for deeper program revisions, on one hand. Student expectations and behavior also evolved and the need for more participative approaches has been consistently documented, on the other. Furthermore, adult training, more specifically in the field of applied sciences, is now the subject of numerous innovative pedagogical methodologies.

Most higher education institutions have a culture of stability and tradition, major revisions requiring careful planning and a pre-determined methodology. Many program reviews start with a self-evaluation process, performed internally, based on existing curricula. The usual methodology starts with a survey among teachers and students, asking for general comments and ways to improve. Many times, because few of the people surveyed have a global perspective, the comments have a tendency to focus on specific issues, eventually leading to the preservation of the existing, proven program structure. Even when the self-evaluation process is followed by an external audit, there are few opportunities for alternatives involving a deeper change to emerge.

This implies that of more global solutions requiring second order change seldom result from the statutory revision process.

How can this be changed? The article explores several critical factors for new programs to be implemented, based on the experience of the undergraduate degree of the Nursing Faculty of the University of Montreal and the graduate program in Project Management of the Université du Québec en Outaouais. Both proposed new programs feature student centered, competency and program-based approaches.