Kimberley Widger

Kimberley Widger COURSE: NUR430, Research and Scholarship in Nursing
FACULTY: Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing
INSTRUCTOR: Kimberley Widger, RN PhD
LEAD DEVELOPER: Kimberley Widger, RN PhD


The course is NUR430: Research and Scholarship in Nursing. It is a required course offered in the second (final) year of the second entry undergraduate in nursing program. Offered as an online course for the first time in the fall of 2013, we expect 175 students to take the course. The course focuses on the application and critical examination of the research process used in the development of nursing science. The link between nursing research and scholarship is emphasized through an understanding of the relationships between research, theory, and practice. The overall goal is to prepare students to find, critique, and appropriately integrate research findings into their nursing practice. At minimum all students should become excellent research consumers but we also hope to inspire some of them to become producers of nursing research.

Since the undergraduate program in nursing is a second entry program – all of the students have a previous degree – some have Master’s degrees or even a PhD prior to the course. Therefore, students have a wide range of experience in research prior to the course, though not in nursing research specifically. The biggest challenge is in meeting the wide range of learning needs and helping those with more knowledge and experience understand the importance of nursing research.

This course is the first and only one in the undergraduate program to be offered in a completely online format, so thinking through the logistics of how to set it up was a challenge. Because of the number of course participants and the online format, there are 7 teaching assistants; some of whom are Master’s students while others are PhD students. I imagine there will be some challenges in ensuring consistency across the teaching team in terms of tutorial discussions and marking assignments. As well, I want to be sure that I, as the course instructor, am able to connect with students rather than having them only feel connected to the TA.

In terms of personal opportunities and challenges, I am new to the faculty and have not previously been responsible for delivering an entire course, let alone an online one. On one hand I am a ‘clean slate’ and enthusiastic to jump in and try new things. On the other hand, the learning curve has been huge! The time involved in preparation for delivery of the course has been much greater than I expected – but I am thrilled with how it seems to be coming together and I hope it will be well received by the students.

NUR430 Syllabus 2013 PDF

The course has not previously included tutorial group discussions. We will randomly divide the students into groups of 25. The students who already have graduate degrees in other fields will be distributed across all tutorial groups in the hopes they may take somewhat of a leadership role and help to teach others in their group with less experience.

The tutorial discussion each week is based on a paper published by one of our nursing faculty. The faculty member has also recorded a video meant to tell ‘the rest of the story’ of their research – why they did the research, why it was led by a nurse, and what has been the impact of the study. Our hope is that these videos help students to connect with faculty; understand the links between practice, research, and theory; get a sense of the wide range of nursing research currently conducted; and be inspired to want to learn more about research so they can have a similar impact in the future.

The course content is primarily delivered in pre-recorded podcasts; however, each week I will record a 10-minute, very informal ‘Coffee with Kim’ video that will highlight key learnings and discussion points from the previous week and outlining the objectives and activities for the coming week. As I will not have my own tutorial group I will have time to ‘beam in’ to all of the tutorial discussions (as directed by the TAs) and plan to highlight particularly good posts by students in the ‘Coffee with Kim.’

Start at the end and work backwards! I really didn’t know where to begin in re-designing the course (and would not have thought of starting at the end!). It was incredibly helpful to learn about and use Fink’s ‘Integrated Design Model’ at CTSI’s Course Design Institute. Taking time to reflect on what I want the students to retain from my course 2 or 3 years down the road was a wonderful way to start and to put everything into perspective. Working backwards from there helped to make sure all of the pieces fit together into an integrated whole. The Institute gave me a chance to try out all the steps, hear what others were planning, and get some feedback on the things I was thinking about.

I have joined an on-line learning interest group through CTSI. The group has only met a couple of times but it has been wonderful to hear what others have tried, challenges faced and their thoughts on how to overcome them. There have also been some references shared on the group’s list serve that have been very helpful (Eight Roles of an Effective On-line Teacher). I have been consulting with Laurie Harrison along the way, and she has also been incredibly helpful in giving feedback and suggestions. I also have an amazing educational technologist, Fareed Teja, who has assisted with all aspects of the course in addition to the technical ones!

At the moment I am finalizing the syllabus and developing all of the content and videos for the course. We will get started on September 10th 2013.

The Course Design Institute was an incredibly fast paced learning experience. The binder of resources and worksheets provided lots of great information to go back to as I worked on developing my course.