Educational Development at the Division of Nursing – from idea to action

Over the course of three years the Unit for Medical Education (UME) worked closely with the Division of Nursing at the Department for Neurobiology, Care Sciences, and Society (NVS) with educational development in order to improve teaching and learning at the division.

- Review of all courses according to KI’s and the division’s basic pedagogical idea and constructive alignment
- Workshops, pedagogical support and pedagogical competence development for teachers and teacher teams
- Implementation of IT-supported teaching
- Mapping of all pedagogical research and development projects, establishment of a new research group
- Increased sharing of experiences and ideas, establishing scholarship seminars

The division’s management contacted UME with the wish to collaborate on educational development, and together with Lena Engqvist Boman (UME) a plan was worked out. The project stretched over the course of three years (2012-2015) under which Lena was contracted 40% to the division so she could work closely with the division’s teachers and the groups of teachers responsible for the different courses (teacher teams).

The main goals of the educational development process at the Division of Nursing were quality assurance and making sure that all education is linked to pedagogical research.

As the head of division Ann Langius-Eklöf puts it:

On the one hand we wanted to map our pedagogical work and find out what we can improve. On the other hand we, the management, had had to reduce costs and it was very important to us to keep a high standard in our education and to make sure that the students meet the study goals.

Educational Development Process

As a first step all the courses given by the Division of Nursing in undergraduate education were reviewed, later even the courses for specialist nursing. Lena Engqvist Boman explains: “Our review was based on KI’s and the division’s basic pedagogical idea. We examined for example how well teaching was connected to pedagogical research and how well constructive alignment was integrated”.

Constructive Alignment
“In constructive alignment, we start with the outcomes we intend students to learn, and align teaching and assessment to those outcomes. The outcome statements contain a learning activity, a verb, that students need to perform to best achieve the outcome, such as “apply expectancy-value theory of motivation”, or “explain the concept of … “. That verb says what the relevant learning activities are that the students need to undertake in order to attain the intended learning outcome. Learning is constructed by what activities the students carry out; learning is about what they do, not about what we teachers do.” (John Biggs)

In a previous project Lena carried out an examination mapping the teachers’ opinion (2009) about teaching, learning, and assessment at the division. Many teachers expressed the wish for a forum to discuss pedagogical issues and questions and the educational development process offered an opportunity for this.

Other activities that were carried out as part of the educational development process were

  • workshops with the teachers
  • pedagogical support and pedagogical competence development for teachers and teacher teams
  • the implementation of IT-supported teaching

Lena Engqvist Boman participated in lectures and she even held lectures for student groups about pedagogics; “Well, if you become a nurse, you often have to teach other people how to do things” explains Ann Langius-Eklöf.

Many initiatives that were initialized have become an integrated part of the Division of Nursing’s daily work. After the three years with Lena the division contracted Lars Uhlin (UME) 20% for supporting the implementation of IT in teaching and learning. Also, scholarship seminars were established so that teachers can share their experiences with each other.

Several teachers have systemised their educational development according to the scholarship model developed by UME (Silén & Bolander Laksov). With Charlotte Silén’s supervision they have published their work in essays and some were presented at Karolinska Institutet’s Educational Congress 2016.

Model scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning can be used in strategic educational development. The model was developed by UME and consists of six activities that are connected to each other and to practice. Read more about scholarship of teaching and learning in UME’s Medical Education Guide.


A new research group

As one result of the educational development process, a new research group with focus on medical education in nursing was established. ”Lena did an inventory on all pedagogical projects that were ongoing. I must say that we had already had the idea of starting a research group with focus on education, but during our educational development work, it became more natural since we realised how many development projects were already ongoing”, says Ann Langius-Eklöf. Today a large group of people are involved in this group for educational research and development and Ann Langius hopes that it will become interprofessional in the future since it applies to pedagogics in several health care professions.

Dialogues and discussions

Maybe the biggest change resulting from the educational development process was the increased sharing of pedagogical development within the division. Ann Langius-Eklöf says about working together with UME: “It was definitely a starting point for open discussions. Things develop faster if you share your experiences, both the positive ones and the less positive ones”.  Even if some teachers were skeptical in the beginning, Lena Engqvist Boman’s efforts have led to open discussions and the exchange of knowledge and experiences. As Lena puts it: “In the beginning there was a certain shyness about pedagogical topics, but the ongoing dialogue helped the teachers to develop a more curious and exploring attitude towards teaching and learning”. One important finding in mapping the educational activities of the Division of Nursing was that there were already a great number of things that worked well and there were lots of good examples that could be shared amongst colleagues.

Ann Langius-Eklöf stresses the importance of continuing working with educational development and not to see it as a one-time project: “This is something we need to work on continuously and it needs to be structured”. That Lena herself has a background as a nurse surely helped in the educational development process at the Division for Nursing, but also her deep understanding in pedagogics was appreciated since it helped the teachers to connect their work to pedagogical literature. “Lena is very much up to date when it comes to pedagogical research and the relevant literature”, says Ann Langius-Eklöf.

Finally one can say that the teachers’ evaluation of their own development indicates further positive results: several of the student-centred methods that were tested can lead to both an improvement in the students’ learning and a reduction of the teachers’ time spent on teaching, which also means reduced costs for teaching. The tested methods include for example peer learning and assessment, student-led teaching and discussions, and roleplay.

The questions whether she thinks the educational development process has been a success is easy to answer for Ann:

It was beyond all expectations! […] I cannot speak for everybody of course, but I think it was a great success and I would very much like to continue working with Lena and UME!