How to Fix Outdated CTE Health Science Curriculum in 4 Easy Steps Blog Feature
Brad Hummel

By: Brad Hummel on November 16th, 2021

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How to Fix Outdated CTE Health Science Curriculum in 4 Easy Steps

Health Science | Health Science Textbooks

As a CTE health science instructor, you understand the panicked feeling when you realize that part of your curriculum is outdated. If your students receive incorrect information, they risk not passing certifications required to enter the health careers of their choice. All of a sudden, you have to fix your lesson plans in a brief timeframe.

If this sounds familiar, you might be nervous about having to replace all or most of your course materials and anxious because you have little time to solve your problem. You might not fully know how much of your curriculum is outdated. If one item is no longer accurate, how many others will you need to revise?

In this post, you’ll learn four steps that will help you revise or replace your course materials with content that is up to date and engaging:

  1. Gather Your Materials
  2. Conduct a Curriculum Audit
  3. Identify How Much of Your Material is Out of Date
  4. Find a Solution Based on Your Audit Results

After reading this article, you should be able to recognize the signs of outdated materials and better understand how to bring your health science curriculum up to date.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials


To understand how much of your curriculum is outdated, you need to take a broad look at all of your course materials. These materials can include a variety of content, like resources you might have used in the past or plans left behind by other instructors.

We propose that you gather your materials so that you can survey them visually and contemplate all of your course content simultaneously.

Some popular types of instructional resources you should review include:

  • Presentations
  • Textbooks
  • Supplemental resources
  • Health career skills demonstrations
  • Procedure instructions
  • Student handouts
  • Videos
  • Discussion questions
  • Assessments

When you have all of your materials, you’re ready to begin a curriculum audit.

Step 2: Conduct a Curriculum Audit


Once you have all of your materials assembled, it’s time to conduct a curriculum audit. A curriculum audit is a detailed inventory and inspection of all the resources for a particular course.

The objective of your audit is simple: you want to ensure that all of the content in your course is current, accurate, and relevant to your students. To accomplish this, you’ll need to check for several different signs of an outdated curriculum.

Specifically, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your content meet your objectives?
  • Is your content accurate and relevant?
  • Has the technology in your classroom changed?

Below, you’ll get a more detailed explanation of each of these criteria.

Does Your Content Meet Your Objectives?

The first criterion you should check for in a curriculum audit is whether or not your resources satisfy course standards. Your state’s department of education usually sets down the requirements for your CTE health science courses. They include specific measures that each teacher must meet in their instruction and assessment.

While standards can vary from state to state, many education departments base their requirements on the National Health Science Standards (NHSS). The NHSS feature 11 Foundational Standards for teaching students across every health science career pathway.

In addition to curriculum standards, you should also account for certification exam requirements. Many high school students are now pursuing certifications to be directly employed in a health occupation immediately after graduation.

Certifications are crucial to health science students because they confirm that learners have the skills and knowledge necessary to provide direct care in a healthcare setting. Many teachers have shared that ensuring students pass their certifications is an important indicator of their performance as educators.

As you complete your audit, note wherever your curriculum doesn’t align with your course objectives. Also, take into account any measures you haven’t addressed. It is paramount that you update all of this content right away.

Is Your Content Accurate and Relevant?

Accuracy and relevancy are key qualities of an up-to-date curriculum. It’s critical that your students receive information that is both correct and relevant to current medical practice. Accurate and relevant information ensures that your students will perform better on exams and certification tests and is more likely to keep them engaged.

Since healthcare guidelines change quickly, it’s especially critical to confirm the accuracy of your procedure instructions. An example of recent, high-profile change in medical advice is the American Heart Association’s 2020 updates to its CPR and Basic Life Support guidance.

When faced with irrelevant examples and inaccurate demonstrations, your students are liable to miss important course content. By contrast, updated materials with examples that speak to today’s health science students go a long way toward helping them master essential material.

As you complete your audit, note every time your resources include dated information and wherever a procedure needs to be updated. Use your best judgment to determine whether an example or activity is relevant to your current students.

Has the Technology In Your Classroom Changed?

Teachers are often surprised by changes and upgrades to technology that affect their classrooms. When a school adopts new software or hardware, instructors often have very little time to prepare before using the latest technology with students.

Health science teachers are vulnerable to changes in technology because it can inhibit you from communicating the latest and most accurate healthcare information with your students. Every time your school changes a program your students use, you need to quickly learn about the changes yourself before using the program in class.

You’ll also need to check that technological changes haven’t altered any of the core instructional elements your students must learn to be certified in their chosen fields. Situations like these will often force you to develop brand new lessons to replace those based on the technology your school used previously.

While auditing your materials, record wherever there has been a technological change that impacts your instruction. Note also if this has been a frequent occurrence.

Once you’ve audited for these three criteria, you’ll be ready to assess the amount of your material that needs to be updated.

Step 3: Identify How Much of Your Material is Out of Date


Having completed your curriculum audit, you’re now ready to take a closer look at which materials you’ve flagged as no longer meeting your course standards, inaccurate or irrelevant, or based on outmoded technology. After looking at your materials, you might be surprised by how many of your lesson plans need revision.

As a result of your course materials audit, you might find that only a few of your lessons are out of date. In this case, most of your plans and procedure demonstrations are ready for your students, but there are some places where you should revise your curriculum to keep it current. You’ll only need a smaller solution to meet your needs.

On the other hand, if you find that all or most of your materials have become outdated after reviewing your lesson plans, you should consider a more comprehensive solution to replace your dated health science curriculum.

If you aren’t sure which scenario you’re in, ask yourself if you are willing and able to replace the outdated plans yourself.

Replacing outdated course materials can feel daunting for many health science teachers, but remember, it's essential to ensure your resources are current. Your students need accurate information to pass their certifications and become successful healthcare workers.

Step 4: Find a Solution Based on Your Audit Results


Once you know what portion of your material is out of date, you’re ready to determine the solution that will best suit your situation. Each classroom is unique, so you should consider what is best based on your students’ needs and the number of teaching materials you need to replace.

Below, you’ll find advice on what to do, based on the amount of your material that is outdated.

What To Do If a Small Amount of Material is Out of Date

You may find that only a handful of your teaching materials are no longer current. Perhaps the guidelines for a common medical procedure were updated and modified slightly. 

Thankfully, the solution to improving a curriculum with just a few areas of outdated resources is relatively straightforward.

In this scenario, you can modify your course content by searching for replacement materials for the outdated lessons. When you find new supplementary resources, you can integrate them into your health science curriculum to quickly update your course.

Often, you can use this method of recourse if you are experiencing minor changes to your course standards. You can find effective lesson plans addressing the new standards and include them in your regular teaching materials.

What To Do If a Large Amount of Material is Out of Date

After a thorough audit of your course content, you may discover that a substantial portion of your health science curriculum is dated. If this is the case, you’ll need to take more significant measures to ensure you teach accurate and current content to your students.

While you can patch your plans with supplementary materials, this is far from the most efficient way to address your challenge. Because your time and resources are limited, you are better served by selecting a whole new curriculum. A new curriculum is up to date from the start and saves you the trouble of individually replacing old material.

Teachers with significant portions of outdated curriculum typically choose from two types of comprehensive health science curriculum:

We’ll examine each option to help you decide if one is a better fit for your classroom.

Health Science Textbooks

Textbooks are a reliable choice for teachers who want a complete curriculum for their entire course. Health science texts provide full lesson plans for teachers and their students and often include instructions for basic clinical procedures. 

Since many textbooks also come with a teacher’s edition, you’ll have a blueprint to guide your instruction and engage your students.

Digital Health Science Curriculum

Another option many instructors choose for their CTE health science classes is a digital curriculum. Digital curriculum can help teachers save time planning and grading by offering a comprehensive portfolio of blended learning teaching materials, including clinical demonstrations.

It’s also regularly updated, which keeps materials current despite changes to standards and technology.

How to Decide Whether a Health Science Textbook or Digital Curriculum is Right for You

Dealing with outdated lesson plans and curriculum resources can be frustrating as a CTE health science teacher. When you are continually confronted with old examples, inaccurate information, and technology changes, you can often spend more time than you realize searching for new lesson plans to bring your curriculum up to date.

Thankfully, there are ways to fix your outdated materials so you can focus on preparing your students for certifications. By conducting a curriculum audit, you can determine how much of your curriculum is out of date.

If you think the best solution for your classroom is adopting a brand new curriculum, you probably have questions about whether a textbook or digital curriculum is right for you.

To help you better understand the differences between these two comprehensive curriculum solutions, download your comparison guide.

In this free resource, you’ll find detailed information about the four major aspects to consider when deciding between digital curriculum and textbooks for your health science classes.

After reading the guide, you’ll have a better idea if a textbook or a digital curriculum system is better for you and your learners.

Download Your Comparison Guide: Digital Curriculum vs. Textbooks


About Brad Hummel

As a researcher and writer, Brad works every day to create helpful content that answers your questions about AES.