The term conceptual understanding was analyzed to determine how educators can help students attain understanding in a concept based curriculum. The investigator sought to establish what salient dimensions and conditions supported conceptual understanding. A dimensional analysis of the term conceptual understanding was employed through a review of the literature in mathematics, science, psychology, and nursing education. The salient dimensions of conceptual understanding were identified as: factual and procedural knowledge, connections, transfer, and metacognition. The supporting properties included: meaningful learning activities, memorization, and misconceptions. The results substantiate conceptual understanding as a process. When this process is utilized by nurse educators, students may better connect and organize knowledge aiding in the knowledge transfer that occurs between theory and practice.


Dimensional Analysis, Education, Conceptual Understanding

Author Bio(s)

Susan Mills is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Widener University. She has studied the benefits of conceptual understanding for students learning in a concept based curriculum. How students learn to calculate medication dosages has been the focus of her research on conceptual understanding. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Susan Mills at, scmills@widener.edu.


The author wishes to acknowledge the wisdom and guidance of Dr. Barbara Patterson, PhD, RN and Dr. Jean Klein, PhD, RN.

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