AACN's Definition of Competency-Based Education

AACN defines competency-based education as “a system of instruction, assessment, feedback, self-reflection, and academic reporting that is based on students demonstrating that they have learned the knowledge, attitudes, motivations, self-perceptions, and skills expected of them as they progress through their education.” Other organizations define competency-based education differently, including the U.S. Department of Education, which more narrowly defines this term as education “that organizes academic content according to competencies—what a student knows and can do—rather than following a more traditional scheme, such as by course.” Nursing programs are encouraged to institute a process to ensure curricula address the competencies delineated in the Essentials and assesses student achievement of those competencies. AACN is not requiring schools to move to time-variable education or organize academic content according to competencies instead of by course. In fact, we anticipate most programs will continue to organize academic content by course. Even so, AACN reminds nursing programs that accrediting agencies and state boards of nursing may require notification or approval of substantive changes proposed in order to implement the Essentials framework, depending on the extent and nature of the proposed changes. Please direct any questions to essentials@aacnnursing.org.