Psychomotor Domain

When teaching something that involves psychomotor skills it can be very useful to give verbal clues that help the learner remember the different parts.  Then as shown in this video clip, repetition is key to mastery.

(Starksilvercreek, 2011).

The preparation of students for a practice discipline such as nursing involves the development of manipulative skills, as well as thinking skills and values development. Learning such skills and performing “hands-on” tasks is the focus of learning in the psychomotor domain. The role of the educator in teaching students in this domain is quite different from teaching in either the cognitive or affective domain, as one is called upon to use different approaches and interact with students in different ways.

But how do individuals learn to perform psychomotor skills? We learn to ride a bicycle by starting small (a tricycle, a larger bike with training wheels) and then progressing to something bigger (a 2-wheeler). We then fly down the street on this larger bike without training wheels, falling again and again … until we don’t fall off any more. After a while, we are so good at riding a bike, we don’t even think about the mechanics anymore and can focus on other things … like the beautiful scenery around us, the cars whizzing by, or talking to the people with whom we are riding. Is this how we learn to insert a catheter, prepare an IV, or give an IM injection? What are the stages one goes through to become comfortable performing a skill, and what are the best ways to develop that competence … and confidence?

These are the kinds of questions that will be explored through the presentation and readings below, which are designed to help you achieve the following objectives:

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


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

Visual Representation


Bell, M. L. (1991). Learning a complex nursing skill: student anxiety and the effect of preclinical skill evaluation. Journal of Nursing Education, 30(5), 222-226.

Brimble, M. (2008). Skills assessment using video analysis in a simulated environment: an evaluation. Paediatric Nursing, 20(7), 26-31.

Dave, R. (1970). Psychomotor levels. In R. A. Armstrong (Ed.), Developing and writing behavioral objectives. Tucson, AZ: Educational Innovators Press.

Dreyfus, H. L., & Dreyfus, S. E. (1996). The relationship of theory and practice in the acquisition of skill. In P. E. Benner, C. A. Tanner & C. A. Chesla (Eds.), Expertise in nursing practice: Caring, clinical judgment, and ethics (pp. 29-47). New York: Springer Pub. Co.

Giddens, J. F., & Eddy, L. (2009). A survey of physical examination skills taught in undergraduate nursing programs: are we teaching too much? Journal of Nursing Education, 48(1), 24-29.

Grady, J. L., Kehrer, R. G., Trusty, C. E., Entin, E. B., Entin, E. E., & Brunye, T. T. (2008). Learning nursing procedures: the influence of simulator fidelity and student gender on teaching effectiveness. Journal of Nursing Education, 47(9), 403-408.

Harrow, A. J. (1972). A taxonomy of the psychomotor domain: A guide for developing behavioral objectives. New York: D. McKay Co.

Hmelo-Silver, C. E., & Pfeffer, M. G. (2004). Comparing expert and novice understanding of a complex system from the perspective of structures, behaviors, and functions. Cognitive Science, 28(1), 127-138.

Jeffries, P. R., Kost, G., & Sweitzer, V. (2009). Teaching-learning in the psychomotor domain. In C. M. Shultz (Ed.), Building a science of nursing education: Foundation for evidence-based teaching-learning (pp. 177-215). New York, NY: National League for Nursing.

Kluge, M. A., & Glick, L. (2006). Teaching therapeutic communication VIA camera cues and clues: the video inter-active (VIA) method. Journal of Nursing Education, 45(11), 463-468.

Knight, C. M., Moule, P., & Desbottes, Z. (2000). The grid that bridges the gap. Nurse Education Today, 20(2), 116-122.

Lachapelle, K. (2007). Teaching technical skills using medical simulation: a new frontier. McGill Journal of Medicine, 10(2), 149-151. Available online.

National Association of EMS Educators. (2002). Module #17: Teaching Psychomotor Skills  In 2002 national guidelines for educating EMS instructors. Pittsburgh, PA: Author. Available online.

Oermann, M. H., Kardong-Edgren, S. E., & Odom-Maryon, T. (2011). Effects of monthly practice on nursing students’ CPR psychomotor skill performance. Resuscitation, 82(4), 447-453.

Oermann, M.H., Kardong-Edgren, S., Odon-Maryon, T., Ha, Y., McColgan, J.K., Hurd, D., Rogers, N., Resurreccion, L.A., Snelson, C., Kuerschner, D.R., Haus, C., Smart, D.A., Lamar, J., Hallmark, B.F., Tennant, M.N., & Dowdy, S.W. (2010). HeartCode  BLS with voice assisted manikin for teaching nursing students: preliminary results. Nursing Education Perspectives, 31(5), 303-308.

Reilly, D. E., & Oermann, M. H. (1999). Behavioral objectives: Evaluation in nursing (3rd ed.). New York, NY: National League for Nursing.

Salyers, V. L. (2007). Teaching psychomotor skills to beginning nursing students using a web-enhanced approach: a quasi-experimental study. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, 4, Article 11.

Simpson, E. J. (1972). The classification of educational objectives in the psychomotor domain. Vol. 3: The psychomotor domain. Washington, DC:  Gryphon House.  Available online at

Starksilvercreek. (January 20, 2011)  How to Hand Jive – With Cast of GREASE  [Video file]. Retrieved from

Wu, W. C., Yang, Y. C., & Chuang, C. P. (2007). The analysis of Simpson’s psychomotor domain educational objectives and its application on the skill evaluation for the department of computer engineering at vocational school. In J. M. Spector, et al., (Eds.), Proceedings: The Seventh IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies.  ICALT 2007 (pp. 723-725). Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society Conference Publishing Services. Available online.