USING THE CURRICULUM DENSITOMETER TO MEASURE THE IMPACT OF CURRICULAR WORKLOAD ON STUDENTS’ MENTAL HEALTH: A PILOT STUDY
Curriculum overload (CO) is major health professional education problem, partly, due to ongoing curriculum reforms. Evidence shows CO can adversely impact students’ mental health, and there is little evidence on how to effectively mitigate CO. In my thesis, the aim was to explore the acceptability and feasibility of a new web application (Curriculum Densitometer - CD app.) developed by the research team for measuring curriculum load and student perceived stress. A total sample of 16 students of enrolled in spring and summer 2020 courses (from the Colleges of Nursing and Medicine, U of S) were used in a convergent mixed methods pre- and post-test design. Participants were administered two pre - and post-test surveys (demographics questionnaire, Kessler’s Psychological Distress Scale – K10), and piloted the CD app parallel to completing academic course assignments in-between the pre- and post-test surveys. An Exit individual interview was conducted using 8 volunteers from the 16 participants, followed by both quantitative and qualitative analysis of the collected data. Majority of the 16 participants were female international postgraduate students over the age of 30 years from the College of Nursing. The qualitative findings showed an acceptability and feasibility among participants, although a number of important implementation factors remain to be addressed to gain broader adoption of the technology. These findings were supported by the high technical feasibility and moderate associations found between the CD app’s perceived stress rating scale and the scores obtained from the K10 quantitative analysis. The conclusion was that the CD app is acceptable and feasible to implement. It provides curriculum developers a medium to monitor and calibrate curriculum load. It also provides instructors with a tool to evaluate course load and to identify and support academically struggling students, and gives students an academic planning, advocacy, and self-care tool for promoting appropriate curriculum load distribution.
curriculum overload, curriculum densitometer, perceived stress, post-secondary students
Master of Science (M.Sc.)
Community Health and Epidemiology
Community and Population Health Science