Syllabus: Administration in Health Care — Teaching Students How to Think, Not What to Think

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This is the expanded version of the syllabus for Administration in Health Care — HHP 630 — Fall 2019 at Fort Hays State University (FHSU) in Hays, Kansas.


Please note that my intent is not to provide a long discourse to confuse you. Rather, please try to enjoy reading the syllabus using this approach and use this as a resource. You will not be asked to memorize anything here.

You will not take one single test in this course, so put your pencils down and enjoy!


The purpose of this expanded version of the syllabus is to provide a deeper understanding of the structure of my teaching methodology and how this course will be conducted. In addition, I will examine the basic anatomy of this course (its part-whole structure).

Course Information and Schedule

This is a virtual course worth three credit hours.

This schedule is tentative and might change during the semester depending on how the course evolves. The content is subject to change depending on students’ interest and progress. Students will be notified of the changes through announcements sent via e-mail. If time is mentioned in the course, it refers to the Central Time Zone.

See assignment instructions for more information for homework requirements. Each assignment is numbered in order of assignment completion (17 total).

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Assessment Methods and Grading Scale

There are 1000 points for this course. The grade you earn for this course depends on the total number of points you earn throughout the semester. The assessment methods and grading scale are as follows:

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Instructor Information

You can reach me via e-mail at I encourage you to connect with me on LinkedIn and visit my website

Textbook and Course Material

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The required textbook for this course is Health Care Management: Organizational Design and Behavior (6th Edition).

I recommend the following books as they will allow you to dive deeper into each concept; however, they are not required to purchase:

*Some of the following books can be read for free.

  1. Flock Not Clock by Derek and Laura Cabrera.
  2. The Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto — or use the following free handout: The Pyramid Principle Handout.
  3. Public Policy Analysis by William Dunn.
  4. The Red Team Handbook: The Army’s Guide To Making Better Decisions published by the University of Foreign Military Cultural Studies (UFMCS).
  5. The Art of Reasoning by David Kelley.
  6. The Logical Structure of Objectivism by William Thomas and David Kelley.
  7. Awareness and Action: A General Semantics Approach to Effective Language Behavior by Mary P. Lahman.

Course Description

This course is intended for those interested in a systematic understanding of organized principles, practices, and insights pertinent to the management of health services organizations.

Teaching Methodology

This course uses a teaching methodology I created called Swarm Learning. In addition, this class uses Derek and Laura Cabrera’s Systems Thinking v2.0 to analyze and synthesize concepts, as well as Lean Six Sigma as the vehicle to apply your understanding of the concepts introduced in this course.

Three Levels of Understanding

Swarm Learning can be used to study any concept from any level, from the most basic level to the most advanced level. I recommend reading The Logical Structure of Objectivism for more on this idea.

Level 1: Basic Level of Understanding: Common-sense understanding of a concept. e.g. common-sense understanding of language. You can read the following sentence and possess a basic understanding of it: Snow is white.

Level 2: Systematic Level of Understanding: An understanding of the logical structure of a concept. e.g. understanding the logical structure of a sentence. You know that the sentence (Snow is white.) consists of a subject + verb + predicate. You also understand that the verb is a copula.

You know that a predicate is the part of a sentence or clause containing a verb and stating something about the subject. And that a copula is a connecting word, in particular, a form of the verb connecting a subject and complement.

Level 3: Advanced Level of Understanding: An expert level of understanding of a concept. e.g. an understanding of how categorical logic works. You understand a system of logic possesses three elements: Semantics, Syntax, and Rules of Inference. You know to grasp a system of logic, you must know all three aspects of the system, such as the specific set of symbols to be used (and what they stand for), the types of combinations of symbols, and how to govern valid inferences. You understand that a proposition asserts a relationship between two sets of objects.

You know that the sentence (Snow is white.) consists of a subject “Snow” (a set of objects) + “is” copula (acts as a link or a bridge linking the two sets) + “white” predicate (another set of objects).

Emergent Knowledge

This class embraces emergent knowledge. We learn in The Logical Structure of Objectivism that, it’s built with an understanding of epistemology, the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of knowledge and methods of validating it. Epistemology explains why knowledge has structure and what the basic standards of logic are. It tells us: What reason is. How it operates. What the different features of knowledge are.

Conceptual Knowledge

In The Logical Structure of Objectivism, we are presented with conceptual knowledge — starting with a principle.

A principle is a proposition that identifies an essential or significant fact. A proposition is a complete thought, usually expressed as a sentence. Just as sentences are made of words, the proposition that a sentence expresses is composed of the concepts to which its words correspond. Our concepts are our ideas of categories or types of things and their attributes, actions, and relationships. Concepts allow us to grasp general facts about the world, covering the whole range from the physical objects that a child first learns about — milk, ball, dog, etc. — to abstract ideas that we derive by complex chains of reasoning. Because concepts are the building-blocks of this level of awareness, we call the knowledge that employs them “conceptual knowledge.”

All knowledge is derived from perceptual data. As discussed in The Logical Structure of Objectivism, this includes:

  1. Forming concepts based on relevant dimensions of relative similarity among particulars: e.g. “tree,” “square,” etc.
  2. Generalizing from observation: e.g. “Dogs bark”.
  3. Drawing inferences from what we already know: e.g. “Because the cars have their wipers on, I can tell that it is raining outside.”
  4. Weighing evidence to draw conclusions about facts we cannot directly observe: e.g. the process of determining guilt in a criminal trial.
  5. Coming up with theories and hypotheses and testing them by experiment: e.g. the process of scientific research

Knowledge is Hierarchical

Furthermore, The Logical Structure of Objectivism informs us of the following: Because the conceptual level is derived from perceptual awareness, it is hierarchical. The vast amount of information we possess may feel as if it is on the same level, but it is not. For instance, consider the way you think of two different facts: 1) You are looking at a book. 2) You are living in a democratic country.

Both facts are obvious to you, but they are established quite differently. You can SEE that the book is a book; you cannot see whether your country is democratic. You can see what a book is, you cannot see what a democracy is. The concept of a book is more concrete than the concept of democracy.

Metaphorical Learning and Transfer of Knowledge

The Logical Structure of Objectivism shows us that the hierarchical character of knowledge means that it has a structure. In this sense, knowledge is like a tall building, with some items in the foundation, and others built up from the foundation. And just as a skyscraper has a steel frame, a body of knowledge has an essential structure. Logic is the process which we build up the structure of our knowledge.

Process of Abstraction

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image created by Dr. Schwandt via Plectica

This class will also provide an understanding of how the process of abstraction works. I recommend reading The Structural Differential created by Alfred Korzybski.


We will use two innovative structures to expand our understanding of concepts in this course. The reason we use these structures is explained brilliantly by Derek and Laura Cabrera in Flock Not Clock:

  1. People need tools and training to help them think through.
  2. Thinking fuels learning.
  3. Learning drives capacity, which makes mission possible and brings about vision.

Concepts in this course will be analyzed and synthesized using DSRP.

Distinctions: Identity and Other.

Systems: Part and Whole.

Relationships: Action and Reaction.

Perspectives: Point and View.

I used the Cabrera’s VMCL model to construct Swarm Learning.

Vision: Emergent and Adaptive Learning

I will use the following metrics to achieve the vision:

  1. Hick’s Law: T = b x log2 (n +1)

Hick’s Law is the principle that the more choices you present a user with, the longer it takes them to make a decision. The time it takes a person to make a decision increases logarithmically with the number of choices you offer them.

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image created by Dr. Schwandt via

For example, my goal is to increase your understanding of each concept by limiting the number of options (n) or choices in each assignment so that you are spending more time learning the concept than trying to figure out how to complete each assignment. However, this will be tough in the beginning.

T = Time to complete each assignment

b = Time to receive, digest, and implement a choice (b is a constant)

log2 (n+1) = choosing what to do (n = number of choices)

I recommend watching a video by Brian Copeland called Fight Lesson 5 — OODA Loops & Hick’s Law for a quick introduction to this idea.

I will also examine sensitivity to change. An example of this is fitting a line to data, where we want to find the optimal rotation for the line. To do this, we take the derivative of a function. The derivative tells us the slope of the function at every point as illustrated below. I recommend watching StatQuest: Fitting a line to data, aka least squares, aka linear regression for more on this idea.

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image(s) from StatQuest — created by Dr. Schwandt via Plectica

2. Gamification via Tableau Dashboard

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image created by Dr. Schwandt via Plectica

Student grading and progress will be tracked in Tableau. Each student will be required to use this program. By grading and tracking student progress in this program, it will force both the instructor and the student to use and become more familiar with the program.

I highly recommend downloading the Tableau application for your Smartphone. Keep reading for more information on how to download this program for free. Using Tableau will provide students an advantage in landing a top job. I recommend reading this outstanding article on 10 Reasons Why Tableau Rocks! Here is a list of my top 5 reasons:

  1. Power of data visualization at your fingertips.
  2. Helps people analyze data to solve problems.
  3. Can be applied to any field and/or business.
  4. You don’t need to understand coding.
  5. Leverage data and easily explain it to your boss.

Mission: Teaching Students How to Think, Not What to Think!

The vision leads to the things you should do daily that produce the desired emergent behavior. The mission includes the actions you should repeatedly do to bring about the vision.

Think of the mission as simple rules a student must do, such as learning to SEE (I include the metric I will use to assess them):

(S) Sense: learn how to think differently as you move from a basic level of understanding of a concept.

Metric: Qualitative remarks on the first Feedback Map.

(E) Estimate: notice patterns as you move to a systematic level of understanding of a concept.

Metric: Qualitative remarks on the second and third Feedback Maps.

(E) Establish: become comfortable with logic, ambiguity, and feedback as you move to an advanced level of understanding of a concept.

Metric: Number of students who choose to write a blog, instead of an essay.

Capacity: Building Capacity Through Thinking

This class will focus on building capacity through thinking, or as the Cabrera’s like to say: Information + Thinking = Knowledge. To do this, we will develop and use what the Cabrera’s call “mission critical systems” that are needed to build capacity. These include first-order and second-order systems:

  1. First-Order Systems.

· Conceptual Knowledge to learn the required information.

· Rational Decision-Making to learn how to think and decide on your own.

· Feedback Injections to assist me in changing the class to meet the needs of the learner.

· Collaboration and Networking.

· Lab & Practical Application through Tableau and Lean Six Sigma.

· Writing and Structure. This class will be structured through Objectives and Key Results (OKRs).

2. Second-Order Systems (the systems we will actually use to bring about the first-order systems).

Blackboard. You will only use Blackboard to find the link to the Learning Community. In addition, I will send announcements through Blackboard, which will go directly to your e-mail address.

WordPress Learning Community. This is where your primary interaction with the instructor and other students will take place. You will receive and post all assignments here: You will receive an e-mail allowing you permission to enter the learning community.

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image created by Dr. Schwandt

Plectica. You will use this for every assignment. You must sign up here: We will use Plectica to analyze and synthesize concepts.

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example of a student map by Jackie Gonne

Tableau. Tableau is a business intelligence system that we will use for practical application. As mentioned earlier, I will also post grades and provide a Student Dashboard so that you can see your progress. You must request a 1 year free license here:

How-to video for obtaining the 1 year free license: Tableau student license

Facebook. If you have a Facebook account, join the Swarm Learning Facebook Group. This is a group of current and former students, as well as experts in different fields. The information you will be learning and the way you will be learning it will be completely new. You can interact with and view maps from former students in this group. I highly recommend you sign-up and participate in it. Click the following link to join the group:

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image from Swarm Learning Class Discussion Facebook Group

Thortspace. Thortspace is a creative and innovative program, one in which we will use at times. Go to the following website to sign up for your free account:

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image created by Dr. Schwandt via Thortspace

Rationaleonline. We will use this program to map out our arguments. Visit the following link to register for your free account:

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image created by Dr. Schwandt via Plectica and If you decide to write a blog, instead of an essay, then you can receive up to 150 extra credit points. Your peers in previous classes have published some outstanding blogs. Feel free to use them as inspiration for your own. Quite a few of them are members of the Facebook group as well. Sign up for a free account at

However, you do not have to use Medium. Feel free to use a different website or even your own personal website. More information regarding this assignment will be provided in week three.

Student Blogs:

Biomimicry and Task Forces: Partners for Solving Problems in Health Care? by Monique Sheck-Holmes

Using Biomimicry and Task Forces to Solve Problems Within A Healthcare Organization by Frank Mac

Biomimicry Framework for Health Care Decisions Using Question Formulation Technique by Emily Navarette

Systems Thinking White Belt Certification: Your First Step to a New Way of Thinking by Brian J. Cicio

Hypothesis Testing in Children with Obesity in P.E. Classes by Lanie Page

How to Measure Child Obesity in PE Classes by Chance Montgomery

Learning Visually by Laurie L. Tubb

Brains AND Brawn: Understanding and measuring neurogenesis and its benefits using hypothesis testing by Ian Boston

The wonders of Lean Six Sigma by Heidi Reinpold

Angles on Childhood Obesity by Wesley Cooper

A Parent’s Wake-up Call: How Childhood Obesity Affects My Child Into Adulthood by Jackelin Gonne

Learning: The Need to Adapt Creates the Need for Learning —A Class in Beta Mode

One of the main elements of Learning is Feedback, for which you will complete four Feedback Maps. This is a class that changes immediately due to student feedback. The Facebook group is an example of a student’s recommendation that I immediately implemented. In addition, this class follows Hick’s Law as mentioned earlier.

Feedback Maps provide a way for the instructor to change a class due to student feedback. The function of the map is to create an adaptive learning environment based on the needs of the learner. This is done through four graded Feedback Maps.

Metric for Learning. To make sure the class benefits from the Feedback Maps, I will examine trends, examine the questions I ask, and change the course while in progress based on feedback if it makes sense.

Course Objectives — OKRs

This class uses the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) format. For more on OKRs, I recommend reading Measure What Matters by John Doerr.

Objective (same as the Mission): Teaching students how to think, not what to think.

· Key Result 1: Eliminate barriers to learning and misunderstanding.

· Key Result 2: Provide students a stable datum.

· Key Result 3: Improve student familiarity with new systems.

· Key Result 4: Change the class while in progress.

· Key Result 5: Create an environment where students collaborate with each other and experts.

· Key Result 6: Improve students use of logic and rational thinking.

· Key Result 7: Promote a learning environment where students are comfortable with ambiguity.

· Key Result 8: Use Visual Scorecards.

Course Content Objectives

*Students who take the graduate comprehensive examination will want to be familiar with and learn the following concepts.

· Define the process of management in health care organizations.

· Explain and analyze myths within health care administration and its workforce.

· Explain and describe how empowerment involves directed autonomy.

· Describe and possess an understanding of a program task force in health care.

· Explain how to identify and use high-performance work practices.

· Explain the factors that affect uncertainty in the environment and for strategic planning — factors such as political legislation, technology, and changing customer demand.

· Understand and explain examples of appropriate ways to deal with alliance problems and how implementing performance monitors might assist.

· Describe what a personal health record (PHR) is and who manages it.

· Explain the advantages of achieving strategic alignment in IS projects at the executive and clinical leadership level.

· Describe how employee surveys can be used in data collection.

Teaching, Learning Methods, and Course Structure

Delivery Method: This class is prepared for the Virtual College at Fort Hays State University. It is a combination of reading, individual and group concept mapping, discussion and collaboration, and an argumentative essay.

This class does not have strict due dates; however, for every assignment turned in late, you will lose 10 points each week an assignment is late.

There are no tests in this course; however, participation and feedback are essential. You must be fully engaged in this course.

Teaching students how to think, not what to think leads to emergent and adaptive learning

Using the book Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card as an analogy, let me (try to) explain the uniqueness and creativity of this teaching methodology. If you are not familiar with the book, I recommend reading Fingertip Feeling: A Synthesis of Ideas from Maneuver Warfare, 4GW, the OODA Loop, and Ender’s Game.

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created by Dr. Schwandt

My goal in this course is not to create an atmosphere that causes “analysis paralysis”. I know this discussion (the expanded syllabus) seems confusing and chaotic, but try not to stress out. Have fun with this class and stretch your mind and imagination. I understand that this is completely new, so don’t worry about your grade. If you do the work, you will pass with flying colors!

Throughout the course, my goal is to simplify assignments. I will need your help to do so. This is why I need honest and candid feedback when completing your feedback maps. I will try to introduce a stable datum into every assignment. Most of the time, the stable datum will be a how-to video. This will allow us to narrow our focus on the stable datum so that we can easily understand responses to stimuli. In essence, we need to slim down the number of responses to a stimulus for quicker reaction time.

By decreasing the number of choices we have to make, we will reduce the amount of time it takes to make a decision. Hick’s Law assesses the cognitive information capacity in choice reaction experiments. The amount of time taken to process a certain amount of bits in Hick’s Law is known as the rate of gain of information.

Think of a stimulus as an input to a function, which then spits out a range of potential responses or outputs. My goal is to simplify and focus on a stable datum by using a function (Swarm Learning methodology) with fewer potential responses. In doing so, we will allow our brain to spend less time thinking about all the potential choices (leading to analysis paralysis) and focus on thinking deeper about the important things (which brings about true knowledge).

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image created by Dr. Schwandt — Swarm Learning Controller

Imagine you possess a Swarm Learning controller as illustrated above. I use an older controller from the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) because it’s a simple controller and a perfect example for using Hick’s Law.

*I will use both the SEE (Sense-Estimate-Establish) and OODA (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) Loop as an example

As you read the syllabus and this discussion, you have started to Sense what is going on and have entered into the OODA Loop. Your brain is receiving signals and you are starting to form a snapshot of what to expect. You are not sure what to think, but you are at least thinking and making Observations.

After you read the expanded syllabus, you will watch the how-to video for the first assignment and start to Orient to what is going on. You will try to place everything into context and make Estimations. You will then have to make a Decision — will you drop the class because it’s ambiguous and new (I hope you do not!)? As you Decide, your brain will start to move through trained responses, which will lead you to question what the hell you are getting yourself into!

This class will help build your database of trained responses — trained responses to ambiguous situations. This class will help you become more comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty.

Think of my teaching methodology and the structure of the class as the NES. I will not change the concepts you need to learn. You will learn about Administration in Health Care.

Think of the game cartridge (Ender’s Game imagined as an NES game — doesn’t really exist) as a game that can be changed. Imagine I can insert a revised or upgraded copy of the game every time I turn the system on to play it.

When you use the controller (this is you thinking and deciding) to play the game (the class), you will be presented with decisions on the television screen (Learning Community, Facebook, etc.). You will then return to the controller to think about and create Feedback Maps that will allow me to upgrade the game (change the class while in progress).

Every time you make a decision, you then Establish your decision and Act. You will go through multiple SEE Loops and OODA Loops throughout this course. My goal is to create an environment where you move through these loops faster each time.

Enjoy and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions… which you will!

Written by

Dr. Schwandt (Ed.D.) is an American author, L6S master black belt, and red teamer.

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