Determining 'curriculum viability' through standards and inhibitors of curriculum quality: a scoping review

Rehan Ahmed Khan*, Annemarie Spruijt, Usman Mahboob, Jeroen J. G. van Merrienboer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Background A curriculum is dynamic entity and hence, metaphorically, can be considered 'alive'. Curricular diseases may impair its quality and hence its viability. The quality of a curriculum is typically assessed against certain quality standards only. This approach does not identify the inhibitors impeding the achievement of quality standards. The purpose of this study is to identify not only standards but also inhibitors of curriculum quality, allowing for a more comprehensive assessment of what we coin 'curriculum viability'. Methods We performed a scoping review of 'curriculum viability', after which 13 articles were found eligible through a meticulous search and selection process. We first identified 1233 studies based on matching keywords, title and abstract; 36 of which met our inclusion criteria. After application of the Qualsyst criteria, two independent reviewers performed a thematic analysis of the 13 articles that remained. Results While all studies reported on standards of quality, only two studies described both standards and inhibitors of quality. These standards and inhibitors were related to educational content and strategy, students, faculty, assessment, educational/work environment, communication, technology and leadership. Conclusions The framework of curriculum viability thus developed will help identify inhibitors adversely affecting the curriculum viability and remaining hidden or un-noticed when curriculum evaluation is done.

Original languageEnglish
Article number336
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2019


  • Curriculum viability
  • Quality standards
  • Curricular problems
  • Curricular diseases
  • Curriculum evaluation
  • Inhibitors

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