Critical Caring Model for Teaching and Learning

Posted on May 26, 2017 by


Recently I had the opportunity to spend a morning discussing approaches to teaching and learning with a group of nursing faculty at Florida Atlantic University. They, like so many other faculty groups, are eager to find constructive approaches to teaching and learning that address the today’s complex issues, and the focus of the FAU College of Nursing is the science of caring! So it was a perfect opportunity to engage in a discussion focused on shifting educational practices to more fully reflect a nursing philosophy of caring, while addressing the pragmatics of 21st century education. In preparing for this discussion, I went back to my “Philosophy of Nursing Education: A Caring Curriculum” presentation (posted on my website) and quickly realized that while that presentation is still pertinent, the model itself is now ripe for an update!  The update follows, along with a bit of explanation!

This discussion deepened my conviction that if we are to educate nursing students to ground their practice in nursing theories and philosophies, we must model doing so by grounding our teaching and learning practices in nursing as well. My previous model was broadly grounded in Jean Watson’s caring theory, but Adeline Falk-Rafael’s Critical Caring theory (developed originally for public health nursing) brings a new rich dimension to a nursing foundation for teaching and learning. In her updated model, Falk-Rafael identified critical caring as a way of being (ontology), a way of knowing (epistemology), a way of choosing (ethics), and a way of doing (praxis). Each of the carative health promoting processes in her model translate beautifully into the practice of teaching and learning:

  1. Preparing Self
  2. Developing and maintaining helping-trusting relationships
  3. Being open and attending to spiritual-mysterious and existential dimensions
  4. Meeting needs and building capacity
  5. Providing, creating and/or maintaining supportive and sustainable environments
  6. Engaging in transpersonal teaching and learning
  7. Using systematic reflexive approach

In my new model, I have also explicitly integrated “Peace and Power.”  Peace and Power informs and gives concrete shape to the practices that emerge in each teaching/learning encounter – the “how” of what we do together.

The educational foundations in the model derive from Noddings’ Philosophy of Education, in which she described explicitly what it means to care, and the teaching process elements that are essential in teaching caring practices: modeling, dialogue, practice and confirmation.

Here is the model:

The see Falk-Rafael’s “tree” more closely, visit the ANS blog where she posted this updated model from the 2012 ANS article cited below.  I have embedded the slides that guided the discussion with the FAU faculty below; you can use the material in the slides as you would any other source!  Here is the citation to use:

Chinn, P. L. (2017, May 28). Critical Caring Model for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved [your date], from


Chinn, P. L., & Falk-Rafael, A. (2015). Peace and power: a theory of emancipatory group process. Journal of Nursing Scholarship: An Official Publication of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing / Sigma Theta Tau, 47(1), 62–69.

Falk-Rafael, A. R., Anderson, M. A., Chinn, P. L., & Rubotzky, A. M. (2004). Peace and Power as a Critical Feminist Framework for Nursing Education. In M. H. Oermann & K. T. Heinrich (Eds.), Annual Review of Nursing Education (Vol. 2, pp. 217–235). New York: Springer Publishing.

Falk-Rafael, A. R., & Betker, C. (2012). Witnessing Social Injustice Downstream and Advocating for Health Equity Upstream: “The Trombone Slide” of Nursing. ANS. Advances in Nursing Science, 35(2), 98–112.

Falk-Rafael, A. R., & Betker, C. (2012). The primacy of relationships: a study of public health nursing practice from a critical caring perspective. ANS. Advances in Nursing Science, 35(4), 315–332.

Falk-Rafael, A. (2013, January 9). Critical Caring Model Update! Retrieved May 12, 2017, from

Noddings, N. (1989). Women and Evil. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Noddings, N. (1995). Philosophy of Education. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.