academic journalism

Hidden Curriculum: An Analytical Definition


avatar Mohammad Reza Andarvazh 1 , avatar Leila Afshar 2 , avatar Shahram Yazdani 3 , *

1 School of Medical Education, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Medical Ethics, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Assistant Professor, School of Medical Education, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

How to Cite: Andarvazh M R, Afshar L , Yazdani S. Hidden Curriculum: An Analytical Definition. J Med Edu. 2017;16(4):e105592.
doi: 10.22037/jme.v16i4.18061.


Journal of Medical Education: 16 (4); e105592
Published Online: March 28, 2018
Article Type: Research Article
Received: August 02, 2017
Accepted: December 18, 2017


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 limitingthe 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.


The body of the article can be found in the PDF file.


  • 1.

    References are available in the PDF file

© 2017, Journal of Medical Education. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License ( which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited.