Changing to Concept-Based Curricula: The Process for Nurse Educators

Kristy A. Baron*
School of Nursing, Weber State University, 3875 Stadium Way Dept. 3903, Ogden, Utah 84408, USA

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© 2017 Kristy A Baron.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to the author at the School of Nursing, Weber State University,3875 Stadium Way Dept. 3903, Ogden, Utah 84408, USA; Fax: 801-626-6397; Tel: 801-626-6121; E-mails:,



The complexity of health care today requires nursing graduates to use effective thinking skills. Many nursing programs are revising curricula to include concept-based learning that encourages problem-solving, effective thinking, and the ability to transfer knowledge to a variety of situations—requiring nurse educators to modify their teaching styles and methods to promote student-centered learning. Changing from teacher-centered learning to student-centered learning requires a major shift in thinking and application.


The focus of this qualitative study was to understand the process of changing to concept-based curricula for nurse educators who previously taught in traditional curriculum designs.


The sample included eight educators from two institutions in one Western state using a grounded theory design.


The themes that emerged from participants’ experiences consisted of the overarching concept, support for change, and central concept, finding meaning in the change. Finding meaning is supported by three main themes: preparing for the change, teaching in a concept-based curriculum, and understanding the teaching-learning process.


Changing to a concept-based curriculum required a major shift in thinking and application. Through support, educators discovered meaning to make the change by constructing authentic learning opportunities that mirrored practice, refining the change process, and reinforcing benefits of teaching.

Keywords: Concepts, Concept-Based Curriculum, Nursing Education, Teaching Conceptually, Changing Curriculum, Student-Centered Learning, Teaching-Learning Strategies.