Affective Domain

Affective learning can be difficult to explore in an online world. Can you empathize with the feelings of these characters in the video? Does it bring up other feelings for you?

(Visavage,  2008)  

Although it was said more than 25 years ago, many educators today still agree with King’s (1984) statement that “there seems to be a strong consensus that [we] no longer can graduate students without spending time seriously examining and critically exploring ethical and value-laden concerns” (p. 2). Indeed, with the increasingly complex ethical issues we face daily — particularly in health care — it is critical that students and nurses in practice be well aware of their feelings, emotions, attitudes, prejudices, beliefs, and values. Such is the nature of the affective domain.

This domain of learning gets very little attention in nursing education — and probably in most other fields — yet it is critical to one’s practice as a nurse. We in nursing are quick to note that ours is a caring profession, but what is caring? How is it evidenced in our behaviors and in the actions we take … when caring for patients/families, when working with other nurses, when serving as a member of an interprofessional team, or when teaching learners? And how do values develop? Are they already formed by the time a student gets to college … or can they still be influenced? Is it the job of educators to attempt to influence students’ values and beliefs, or is that indoctrination? If educators have no business attending to values, how do we justify program emphases on cultural competence, professional codes of ethics, ethical dilemmas, social justice, access to care issues, health disparities, and other highly-charged topics? And finally, how does one measure values and beliefs? These and more are the kinds of questions that will be addressed as facilitating learning in the effective domain is explored.

Many would argue that as educators, we have an obligation to challenge learners to “make choices, to probe, examine, and scrutinize ethical questions, and emerge with their own answers” (King, 1984, p. 2). We also have an obligation to support learners through the potentially painful process of development. Thus, facilitating learning in the affective domain requires a balance of challenge and support, as is the case with teaching in the cognitive domain.

The resources below will help you explore ways in which this balance can be achieved and address the following objectives:

  • Formulate affective domain learning objectives that are appropriate to intended learning goals for a select group of students
  • Examine selected issues related to teaching in the affective domain and promoting development in this area for nursing students and practicing nurses
  • Propose teaching strategies that enhance student learning in the affective domain


For more information about the affective domain, watch this presentation by Dr Terry Valiga Duke School of Nursing entitled Facilitating Learning in the Affective Domain.

Characteristics within the Affective Domain


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Clark, C. M. (2008). Faculty and student assessment of and experience with incivility in nursing education. Journal of Nursing Education, 47(10), 458-465.

Clark, C. M. (2008d). Student voices on faculty incivility in nursing education: a conceptual model. Nursing Education Perspectives, 29(5), 284-289.

Clark, C. M. (2008). The dance of incivility in nursing education as described by nursing faculty and students. Advances in Nursing Science, 31(4), E37-54.

Clark, C. M. (2009). Faculty field guide for promoting student civility in the classroom. Nurse Educator, 34(5), 194-197.

Clark, C. M. (2011). Pursuing a culture of civility: an intervention study in one program of nursing. Nurse Educator, 36(3), 98-102.

Clark, C. M., & Carnosso, J. (2008). Civility: a concept analysis. Journal of Theory Construction & Testing, 12(1), 11-15.

Clark, C. M., Farnsworth, J., & Landrum, R. E. (2009). Development and description of the Incivility in Nursing Education (INE) Survey. Journal of Theory Construction & Testing, 13(1), 7-15.

Clark, C. M., Farnsworth, J., & Springer, P. J. (2008). Policy development for disruptive student behaviors. Nurse Educator, 33(6), 259-262.

Clark, C. M., & Springer, P. J. (2010). Academic nurse leaders’ role in fostering a culture of civility in nursing education. Journal of Nursing Education, 49(6), 319-325.

Clark, C. (2008c). Student perspectives on faculty incivility in nursing education: an application of the concept of “rankism”. Nursing Outlook, 56(1), 4-8.

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Crigger, N., & Godfrey, N. (2011). The making of nurse professionals: A transformational, ethical approach. Sudbury,. MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.

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Harrison, P. A., & Fopma-Loy, J. L. (2010). Reflective journal prompts: a vehicle for stimulating emotional competence in nursing. Journal of Nursing Education, 49(11), 644-652.

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King, E. C. (1984). Affective education in nursing: A guide to teaching and assessment. Rockville, MD: Aspen Systems Corp.

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Maier-Lorentz, M. M. (1999). Writing objectives and evaluating learning in the affective domain. Journal for Nurses in Staff Development, 15(4), 167-171.

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Sloand, E., Bower, K., & Groves, S. (2008). Challenges and benefits of international clinical placements in public health nursing. Nurse Educator, 33(1), 35-38.

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