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VITAL Grants Have Vital Impact on Faculty and Students

“Vital grants have vital outcomes for faculty, students and patients,” says Associate Professor Carol Toussie Weingarten, PhD, RN, ANEF, Course Leader for the theory and clinical courses Nursing Care of Women and Childbearing Families (N3118-3119), 7 week required courses, taken by all second semester junior level nursing students.  The summer grants and other resources provided by Villanova’s Institute for Teaching and Learning (VITAL) make possible immersion in the art and science of teaching and learning and bring even the most experienced faculty to new levels.”

The 2013-2014 VITAL grant Dr. Weingarten received with colleagues Amy McKeever, PhD, RN, CRNP, assistant professor, and now retired faculty Patricia Mynaugh, PhD, RN supported their work in developing strategies for the N3118-3119 courses which debuted in the College of Nursing’s new curriculum in January, 2014.    Her current grant with Clinical Instructor Susan Meyers, MSN, RN, CRNP  and  their work with colleague Assistant Professor Linda Maldonado, PhD, RN focus on testing as teaching and the development of multiple-choice items to foster critical thinking and success in N3118-9 and on the NCLEX-RN.

“We are all expert in the content areas,” says Meyers.  “Having the chance to focus on the process of item writing and test construction individually and as a group has sharpened our skills as educators, too.”  All graduates must pass the National Council State Licensing Exam (NCLEX-RN), so testing in the format of the NCLEX helps students prepare for the “nursing boards.”   The current VITAL grant also has provided consultation with retired faculty Belle Erickson, PhD, RN, as well as VITAL’s Director and education expert Gabriele Bauer, PhD.    Discussion with Erickson about test items, test construction and statistical analysis and with Dr. Bauer about teaching strategies and outcomes have fostered excellence throughout the courses.  The VITAL grants have inspired what the N3118 team calls “OB Jamborees,” sessions where items are created, reviewed and revised and discussions focus on ensuring the courses are evidence-based and current.  The collaboration that has evolved from the grants further has fostered great friendship and support with the teaching team.

“Along with a talented group of adjunct clinical faculty, our course faculty has become the ‘Dream Team of thirty-one eighteen-nineteen,’” says Dr. Weingarten.  According to the faculty team, the VITAL grants are truly vital.  Their far reaching impact on planning, strategies, evaluation and collaboration promote excellence in students and faculty, in their careers, and in the care they provide to current and future patients.