Conceptual Frameworks and Instruments for Nursing Education Research

Are you starting on a research design journey in nursing education? You may need a conceptual framework or theoretical model on which to base your study. Consider those listed below, and let us know how we can support you in designing your research to yield meaningful, publishable results by emailing


Community of Inquiry (CoI)

The CoI framework uses three elements — social presence, teaching presence and cognitive presence — to explain how students engage in interaction and reflection to construct meaning and develop mutual understanding of course content. This easy-to-understand framework already has a validated survey under a Creative Commons license, so you can offer it to your students in your course with a simple Qualtrics survey.


Self-Regulated Learning

The SMASH survey is a metacognition (being cognizant and reflective about one’s own learning) inventory to measure systematic study habits, social learning, perceived difficulty and help seeking in college students. This instrument was developed and tested in a population of undergraduate biology students. The full instrument and other resources are available at

Metzger, K. J., Smith, B. A., Brown, E., & Soneral, P. A. G. (2018). SMASH: A diagnostic tool to monitor student metacognition, affect, and study habits in an undergraduate science course. Journal of College Science Teaching, 47(3), 88–99.

SMASH: A Diagnostic Tool to Monitor Student Metacognition, Affect, and Study Habits in an Undergraduate Science Course


Equity, Agency, Transparency (EAT) Framework for Assessment

EAT Framework information, tools, and resources

“The EAT Framework (Evans, 2016, 2018) is a research-informed inclusive approach to enhancing assessment and feedback at individual, module, programme, faculty, and university-wide levels. In focusing on assessment literacy, assessment feedback, and assessment design, it promotes a holistic and integrated perspective to enhancing self-regulation in learning and teaching ... EAT provides a practical tool that universities can use across disciplines, and at a variety of levels (individual; discipline; college; university). The three interconnected dimensions and their four areas are presented as a set of twelve decision making cards, with both teacher focused and student focused versions available, as well as key considerations for programme leaders” (Evans, 2021).

Using EAT in Practice

“The Framework can be used with individuals (students and lecturers) and with teams

  • As a diagnostic tool: to evaluate strengths and weaknesses at individual and team / organisational levels.
  • As a design tool: to hone in on the development of one area of practice e.g. feedback and consider what needs to happen in all 12 areas of practice.
  • As a predictive tool: to explore relationships between student engagement and outcomes.
  • As an evaluative tool: to evaluate the relative effectiveness of assessment feedback practices.
  • As a training tool to support student and lecturer skills’ development”

Evans, C. (2021). EAT Framework: Equity, Agency, Transparency. Retrieved from

Evans, C., & Waring, M. (2020, August 27). Enhancing Students’ Assessment Feedback Skills Within Higher Education. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education.