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Concept-Based Curricula

A National Study of Critical Concepts

Brussow, Jennifer A., MA; Roberts, Karin, PhD, RN, CNE; Scaruto, Matthew, MA; Sommer, Sheryl, PhD, RN, CNE; Mills, Christine, PhD

doi: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000000515
Article: PDF Only

As nursing education struggles to address a rapidly changing health care system, overcrowded curricula, and an increased focus on clinical reasoning skills, many programs have adopted or transitioned to concept-based curricula (CBCs), which are structured around key concepts and exemplars. Despite CBC’s promised benefits, the process of developing a CBC framework may pose a challenge to programs. To address this barrier, a national study was conducted to develop a representative list of concepts and exemplars. This initiative expands on prior work by suggesting a leveled approach to positioning exemplars within a curricular sequence.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially without permission from the journal.

Author Affiliation: Research Scientist (Ms Brussow), Director of Consultation Services (Dr Roberts), Psychometrician (Mr Scaruto), VP Faculty and Institution Services (Dr Sommer), and Director of Research & Applied Psychometrics (Dr Mills), Ascend Learning, LLC, Leawood, Kansas.

The authors are employed by Ascend Learning, whose subsidiary (Assessment Technologies Institute) produces CBC assessments. The authors’ compensation is not dependent on research findings. Research design, analysis, and results reporting are conducted independently from the business unit.

Correspondence: Ms Brussow, Ascend Learning, LLC, 11161 Overbook Rd, Leawood, KS 66211 (

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Accepted for publication: January 2, 2018

Published ahead of print: February 22, 2018

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