Hidden Curriculum: An Analytical Definition

  • Mohammad Reza Andarvazh School of Medical Education, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  • Leila Afshar Department of Medical Ethics, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  • Shahram Yazdani School of Medical Education, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Background: The concept of hidden curriculum was first used by Philip Jackson in 1968, and Hafferty brought this concept to the medical education. Many of the subjects that medical students learn are attributed to this curriculum. So far several definitions have been presented for the hidden curriculum, which on the one hand made this concept richer, and on the other hand, led to confusion and ambiguity.
This paper tries to provide a clear and comprehensive definition of it.
Methods: In this study, concept analysis of McKenna method was used. Using keywords and searching in the databases, 561 English and 26 Persian references related to the concept was found, then by limiting
the research scope, 125 abstracts and by finding more relevant references, 55 articles were fully studied.
Results: After analyzing the definitions by McKenna method, the hidden curriculum is defined as follows: The hidden curriculum is a hidden, powerful, intrinsic in organizational structure and culture and sometimes contradictory message, conveyed implicitly and tacitly in the learning environment by structural and human factors and its contents includes cultural habits and customs, norms, values, belief systems, attitudes, skills, desires and behavioral and social expectations can have a positive or negative effect, unplanned, neither planners nor teachers, nor learners are aware of it. The ultimate consequence of the hidden curriculum includes reproducing the existing class structure, socialization, and familiarizing learners for transmission and joining the professional world.
Conclusion: Based on the concept analysis, we arrived at an analytical definition of the hidden curriculum that could be useful for further studies in this area.


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Original (Research) Articles