Welcome students and the wider academic community. This fall fourth-year nursing students will enter a realm of new possibilities as they are given the power to control their own learning. Get ready for some real fun with research.


When I say students get choice, I mean it. The course is designed to have students engage in a project that involves the application and sharing of research knowledge through a project. Next week I need to finalize these course objectives, which because of institutional policy need to be pre-determined. Students, if you are reading this please take a look and comment if there is anything you don’t like or need clarification on. The outcomes cannot be changed because they are determined by the collaboration, but I can change the objectives. Please comment on this blog post or directly on this document.

Here is the exciting part, you get to tell me what you think the project should be. Last year everyone did a research proposal. You can still do that or you can propose something else. Some examples may include a poster presentation at our year-end “celebration of research” day, a best practice guideline for nurses similar to what the RNAO produces, engage in a data analysis project, create a website, or open educational resource – there is a world of possibilities. You will propose your idea in the early part of the course in the way that best suite your needs. The key here is that you need to justify that your idea meets the course objectives.

Throughout the course, you will be asked to share your progress on your proposed project. You can choose to do so within the confines of Moodle or out in the open where you can get feedback from a wider community. I recently started blogging. You will likely be asked to create a blog for one of your other classes so you might as well blog for mine too! Or, if you want to share your progress in a different way let me know and we will make sure it meets the course objectives. Sharing (dissemination) is a key objective of the course.

Negotiated Grades

I refuse to dictate your grades. By fourth year you have the skills required to assess your own learning fairly. Don’t worry, we will have clear “marking” criteria. In the first two weeks of class, we will discuss and co-construct criteria for success in the course. Then as you progress through the course the process will look something like this:

  1. You will submit assignments
  2. I will give you feedback
  3. You will assess based on your perception of the work, co-created rubrics and my feedback what your mark should be
  4. We will discuss the mark at midterm and final

We will discuss this process at the beginning of the course to refine a process that works for everyone. Below is a picture of what I am working on for the course outline. The administration needs a mark at midterm and final. How does this look? Basically, based on several assignments you will get a mark worth 40% (or less) of your mark at midterm and the rest will be negotiated after you submit your project.

This gradeless thing is working elsewhere. It may be a different approach, but it works. It is founded on a trusting relationship with students and active participation in the course.



In the first primarily online delivery of the course, you will be invited to participate in live sessions. Due to the potential variety of the topics, I will be sure to clearly communicate the topics for discussion in advance. You can choose which sessions to attend or watch recordings afterward. We can meet online or in person. I am also on campus and ready to meet with you whenever you need.


What do you think?

Please give me some feedback. I would love you hear your thoughts – positive or negative. Now is the time to impact change.


Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit http://nursekillam.com/.

1 Comment

Connectively Full From First @ontarioextend Extended Lunch – CogDogBlog · June 7, 2018 at 3:09 pm

[…] how to incorporate student blogging into an upcoming research class she is teaching– see #BSN4416 Plans: Engaging, Ungrading, and Empowering — and give her some good comment feedback, […]

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