Theoretical Course Framework

                                                                            Susan Knowles, DNP, RN

The preparation course is designed for professional nurses and content experts who lack academic teaching skills. As experienced nurses, they bring both life and work experience to their learning. Therefore, the clinical instructor preparation course was designed based on the assumptions of adult learning theory, andragogy, which is based on the assumptions of the way adults learn. As learners, adults are self-directed and they bring life experience to their learning (Lieb, 1991). Additionally, adults are goal oriented plus they must see the relevance and applicability of the information they are expected to learn (Lieb, 1991). Most importantly, adults must feel respected in the educational relationship (Lieb, 1991).


The andragogical model is a process model rather than a content model, which makes it ideal for teaching          professional nurses (Knowles, Holston & Swanson, 2012, p. 115). Furthermore, the andragogical model is appropriate for teaching novice nurse educators, as it is  based on a collaborative and respectful approach (Knowles, et al., 2012). As a collaborative approach the learning needs of the novice instructor are mutually planned, sequenced, and evaluated with a mentor (Knowles, et al., 2012).  Offering the program in an online approach respects the known time constraints of the part-time novice nurse educators.

Another advantage of andragogy is its adaptability to online learning (Knowles, et al., 2012, p. 241). Both andragogy and online learning share the concepts of self-direction, being readily accessible, and offer relevant learning opportunities (Knowles, et al., 2012). Additionally, the learning activities within the modules are designed based on the problems and experiences most frequently encountered by nurse educators (Knowles, et al., 2012).

The preparation course is divided into sequenced modules making it appropriate for self-directed adult learners and appropriate for the online learning environment (Knowles, et al., 2012). As the novice instructor moves through the course, new material will build sequentially upon previously learned material from week-to-week. This sequential learning will be completed gradually as the novice instructor teaches a group of students, rather than all modules being front-end loaded (Knowles, et al., 2012).


In keeping the course consistent with the andragogical model only relevant and practical need to know information is included in the series of modules (Lieb, 1991). While a sequence for the modules is suggested, the learner may decide to skip or return to a module as needed, which is a consistent concept for both online and adult learning (Knowles, et al., 2012).










Knowles, M., Holston, E.F., & Swanson R.A., (2012). The adult learner: The definitive classic in adult education and human resource development.7th ed. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.


Lieb, S. (1991). Principles of Adult Learning. Vision-South Mountain Community College.Retrieved from

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