The Bachelor of Health Science Online Program: a Look at Program Development Through the Eye of the Curriculum Committee Members
Delivery of an online education model is a trend that is increasing in popularity in today’s day and age. Although not a recent phenomenon, the technological development within the world of distance education would make it appear as so (McGorry, 2003). Due to the costly expense of university programs and the nature of full-time studies, many students are unable to participate in the traditional in-house university experience (Rasmussen, Northrup & Colson, 2016). Because of this, a large demographic lacks the ability to gain acceptance into professional schools, specifically in health related fields. Offering an online health studies’ program would eliminate this barrier. When developing an online undergraduate program in health studies, it is imperative to maintain a high degree of academic quality. The purpose of this study was to examine the influences of the curriculum on the development of Bachelor of Health Science (BHSc(H)) online program at Queen’s University, through the eye of the curriculum committee members. Employing a phenomenological inquiry methodology, data was collected through semi-structured interviews with a total of 14 participants who were members of the curriculum committee. The data was transcribed, analyzed and coded. This analysis revealed four major themes: program design, role of the curriculum committee in the program, online program development and innovation, and course development. Differences in the participants’ perceptions tended to reflect the varying roles they played in the development of the program. The main influences on the program design included; the use of a backward design model in which assessments were at the forefront of course development and the intricate mapping of competencies and outcomes. The backward design model was considered to be a very effective approach to development of each individual course and set the stage for the high academic quality of the program. In addition, the unique competency-based framework upon which the program is built allowed the developers of the BHSc(H) program to create something innovative and new to the world of online learning across Canadian universities. Competency-based education is not commonly found at the undergraduate level and will give the successful BHSc(H) program graduates an edge above their peers in postgraduate studies in the healthcare field. Despite the challenges faced by the program from the get go; fighting against the stigma of online learning, developing traditional hands on assessments in an online format and convincing the graduate schools of the academic quality of the four year online degree, the program development was thorough, rigorous and academically sound. Participants concluded their interviews by outlining their thoughts on the potential success of the program to which they stated that the BHSc(H) program has the potential to be a highly successful route to post graduate studies and to shape the way for future online programs. This program design model might well lead the way for the development of future online programs at Queen’s and across the country.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/25921
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