Skip to main content

School of Nursing

Curriculum Framework

Curriculum Framework and Guiding Document

Hallmarks of a baccalaureate education include, but are not limited to:

  • A liberal education, with a focus on professional values, core competencies, core knowledge and role formation (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 1998; Benner, Sutphen, Leonard, & Day, 2010)
  • Positive attitudes towards life-long learning
  • Pathways for advancement for registered nurses/licensed practical nurses to obtain baccalaureate education
  • A foundation for graduate education
  • A grounding in professional theory
  • An emphasis on evidence-based practice and research
  • An emphasis on teaching/learning in care
  • Skills and knowledge to meet the needs of diverse populations
  • Faculty roles of advisor, resource person, facilitator, and professional role model
  • Student roles of peer mentor and future professional mentor

Hallmarks of a graduate education include, but are not limited to:

  • An emphasis on the utilization of research and evidence-based practice
  • Utilization of policy, organization and financing of health care
  • Application of ethical values and beliefs that provide a framework for nursing practice
  • The theory and practice of professional role formation
  • Evaluation and utilization of nursing practice theoretical frameworks
  • Analysis of human diversity and social issues
  • A strong theoretical foundation in health promotion and illness prevention with a population focus (American Association of Colleges of Nursing/DNP [AACN], 2006; American Association of Colleges of Nursing/Masters [AACN], 2011).

Belief Statements

The curriculum is organized to facilitate student learning. The beginning courses provide a foundation for the nursing major. Course content and learning experiences progress from the individual to the family and community, from simple to complex, from faculty-facilitated to student-directed learning, and from theory to application. Teaching and learning are highly interactive and multidimensional processes. Our faculty design and facilitate experiences to guide students to integrate theoretical concepts into practice, foster a spirit of inquiry, and expand critical and reflective thinking in nursing. This design enables students to acquire attitudes, cognition, and the essential skills needed to develop the knowledge and behaviors that comprise the professional nursing role.

The curriculum framework provides direction for the selection and organization of learning experiences to achieve program objectives. The curriculum is centered on the philosophy that guides the curriculum design by ensuring that the common themes necessary for nursing practice are addressed and developed progressively across the course of study.

The five integral threads interwoven across the nursing curriculum are: Clinical Reasoning and Critical Inquiry, Communication, Experiential Learning, Global Worldview, and Professionalism and Leadership. They are defined as follows:

Clinical Reasoning and Critical Inquiry

Professional nurses are expected to deliver patient-centered, safe, quality care while working as members of collaborative interprofessional teams. In addition, they act as transformative change agents for patients and health care at microsystem and societal levels (AACN, 2008; Institute of Medicine of the National Academies [IOM], 2010, 2011). To do this requires nurses to “integrate reliable evidence from multiple ways of knowing to inform practice and make clinical judgments” (AACN, 2008, p. 16). “Nurses need multiple ways of thinking, such as clinical reasoning and clinical imagination as well as critical, creative, scientific, and formal criterial reasoning” (Benner, Sutphen, Leonard, & Day, 2010, p. 85) in order to fulfill their professional roles and potential. This curriculum incorporates many ways of knowing in student learning experiences but emphasizes clinical reasoning and critical inquiry as cornerstones of evidence-based nursing practice.

Clinical reasoning is “the practitioner’s ability to assess patient problems or needs and analyze data to accurately identify and frame problems within the context of the individual patient’s environment” (Murphy, 2004, p. 227). Inherent in clinical reasoning is practical reasoning, enhancing nurses’ basic analytic processes with evidenced, reflective clinical judgment, which also takes into account the unpredictable, ever-changing nature of patient care situations and contexts (Benner et al., 2010; Sullivan & Rosin, 2008).

Critical inquiry is a process involving examining existing assumptions, knowledge, and questions, gaining (and creating) new information, and acquiring new perspectives. It then requires using critical analysis to reflect, take action, examine responses, and share learning with others (Jennings & Smith, 2002). Critical inquiry skills allow a person to identify a problem, propose solutions, find evidence for and against proposed solutions, and evaluate the solutions based on this evidence (Suthers, 1997). Critical inquiry assists students to examine and challenge the status quo and the power relations that produce inequalities, in ways that can lead to advocacy and community action (Wright, 2004).

Learning to think and act like professional nurses involves using clinical reasoning and critical inquiry with elements of reflective judgment resulting in a reasoned, analytic cyclical process which incorporates scientific evidence, objective thought, contextual elements, values, and ever-changing conditions. Teaching students to reason and “think like a nurse” (Benner et al., 2010, p. 85) involves elements of focused reflection, written and/or verbal articulation of thoughts, assignments that connect new experiences to existing knowledge, critical inquiry, creative thinking, and nursing judgment.


Communication is the process of exchanging information, ideas, feelings and beliefs with the aim of understanding (Nordby, 2007). Skillful communication occurs when a person clearly, concisely and accurately conveys messages to another person(s). It involves active listening and careful evaluation including nonverbal, extrasensory, written, spoken and written in technological formats. Nursing communication has a professional, therapeutic, collaborative and client-centered focus. The main intent of communication in a health setting is to influence well-being (Fleischer, Berg, Zimmermann, Wuste, & Behrens (2009).

Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning is an educational process of engaging learners through a variety of learning methodologies to increase knowledge, develop skills, and clarify and foster values essential to nursing. Experiential Learning is engagement, the process whereby students and faculty are actively connected and involved in their learning about nursing and their work with people, the interprofessional healthcare team, and the community. This active engagement has intellectual, social, and emotional components (Kahu, 2011; Schreiner, 2010a, b, c) and requires “meaningful processing, focused attention and active participation” (Schreiner, 2010b, p. 4).

Experiential Learning may include, but is not limited to:

  • Student-focused learning using reality-based situations and problems
  • Faculty and student interactions to construct meaningful interpretation of events and ideas
  • Teaching-learning techniques, such as active learning, cooperative learning, collaborative learning, self-directed and student-focused learning and clinical simulations
  • Authentic field experiences and partnerships (acute, immediate, long-term, public health and community agencies)
  • Civic engagement and service-learning experiences
  • Advocacy and policy development experiences
  • Cultural immersion through global nursing and health experiences
  • Mentoring in research, evidence-based practice, and scholarly projects

Global Worldview

Global Worldview is the process of integrating an intercultural and international dimension into the teaching, research, and service functions of nursing education. A global outlook is universal in scope, not limited by what is known and familiar.  It demonstrates an awareness of the interconnected world community and the importance of social justice. “Worldview” is defined as “the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world” (The American Heritage® Dictionary, 2006). A global worldview is integral to achieving cultural competence in areas such as ability, age, ethnicity, generation, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.

This approach may include, but is not limited to:

  • Diverse communities
  • Intercultural issues
  • Student and faculty foreign exchange opportunities
  • Intercultural and international program development
  • Faculty/institutional support services
  • Service-learning programs

Professionalism and Leadership

Professionalism requires a body of knowledge, on-going generation of knowledge, evidence-based practice, socially sanctioned or mandated service, autonomy, self-governance, code of ethics and participation in professional societies and organizations (Porter-O’Grady & Malloch, 2012). Professionalism is exhibited in the behaviors and attitudes of each individual nurse. The integration of core disciplinary values, knowledge, and personal reflection is the foundation of professionalism in nursing. Core disciplinary values include the values of integrity, respect for human dignity, caring and advocacy. All nurses must have knowledge of legal, ethical and practice standards.

Personal reflection includes the integration of personal evaluation and self-care practices with lifelong career and personal goals. Nursing professionalism is expressed through leadership skills such as creativity, collaboration, assertiveness, adaptability to change, vision, innovation, life-long commitment to learning and professional accountability, role behaviors and appearance (Porter-O’Grady & Malloch, 2010; Porter-O’Grady & Malloch, 2012) that influence, motivate and affect others to contribute to the improvement of client health care and to the success of the organization.

Professionalism is the foundation of the nurse’s roles of information resource, clinician, mentor, care coordinator, advocate and change agent. It also underpins the management skills of administration, organization, delegation, supervision, change leadership and resource management (Huber, 2011). Nursing professionalism is the foundation for the efficient, effective use and stewardship of human, physical, financial, intellectual and technical resources to meet client needs and support organizational outcomes.

The curriculum of the School of Nursing was developed to be congruent with the strategic vision of the College and University. The School of Nursing recognizes clinical reasoning and critical inquiry, communication, experiential learning, global worldview, and professionalism and leadership are necessary to deliver nursing care to clients in a variety of environments to optimize health.


Academic/Professional Progression in Nursing, National League for Nursing. (Sept. 2007). Retrieved from—academic-professional-progression-in-nursing-september-2007

Advancing Higher Education in Nursing, The Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing as Minimal Preparation for Professional Practice, American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (Updated 12/2000).  Retrieved from

Advancing Higher Education in Nursing. The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice, American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (Oct. 2006). Retrieved from

Advancing Higher Education in Nursing, The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice, American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (March 2011). Retrieved from

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (October 2006). Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice. Referenced from:

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (March 21, 2011). Essentials of Master’s .0Education in Nursing Essentials in Nursing. Referenced from

American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN]. (2008a). The essentials of baccalaureate education for professional nursing practice. Washington, D.C.: Author. Retrieved from

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, (4th ed.). (2006).Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Benner, P., Sutphen, M., Leonard, V., & Day, L. (2010). Educating nurses: A call for radical transformation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Definition of Nursing, International Council of Nurses. (Last Updated on Monday, 12 April 2010 21:38). Retrieved from

Edmondson-Jones, P. (2007) A framework for the delivery of public health: an ecological approach. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 61:6 555-558

Fawcett, J. (2000). Analysis and evaluation of contemporary nursing knowledge. Philadelphia: F. A. Davis

Fleischer, S., Berg, A., Zimmermann, M., Wuste, K., & Behrens, J. (2009). Nurse-patient interaction and communication: A systematic literature review. Journal of Public Health. 17, 339-353.

Huber, D. L. (2011). Leadership and nursing care management (4th ed.). Maryland Heights, MO: Saunders Elsevier

Institute of Medicine of the National Academies [IOM]. (2010). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and National Academy of Sciences, Oct. 2010. Retrieved from: 

Institute of Medicine of the National Academies [IOM]. (2011). The future of nursing: Focus on education. Report at a Glance. Retrieved from:

Kahu, E.R. (2011). Framing student engagement in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 1-16, ifirst Article. doi: 10.1080/03075079.2011.598505

Norby, H. (2007). Meaning and normativity in the nurse-patient interaction. Nursing Philosophy 8, 16-27.

Porter O’Grady, T., & Malloch, K. (2010). Innovation Leadership: Creating the Landscape of Health Care. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett

Porter O’Grady, T., & Malloch, K. (2012). Leadership in Nursing Practice: Changing the Landscape of Health Care. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett

Salmela, S. Eriksson, K. Fagerstrom, L. 2011. Leading change: a three dimensional model of nurse leaders’ main task and roles during a change process. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 68 (2). pg. 423 – 433.

What is Nursing? American Nurses Association. (2013). Retrieved from:

Wright, J. (2004). Critical inquiry and problem-solving in physical education. Retrieved October 31, 2007, from:

Undergraduate Program Learning Outcomes

PLO 1: Communication (Oral and Written)

PLO 2: Clinical Reasoning and Critical Inquiry

PLO 3: Experiential Learning

PLO 4: Professionalism and Leadership

PLO 5: Global World View

Back To Top