Three Circle Model

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three circle model

The “Three Circle” Model

This is an educational philosophy, first described by Ronald Harden in Dundee in 1999. It is an example of Outcome-Based Education. In this philosophy, the emphasis is on the product of the educational process. It is hoped that this approach ensures that an individual completing a course of study will be able to carry out the appropriate tasks, with the personal and professional attributes valued by the society he or she will be serving.

The Three Circle Model is an holistic view of education, and is described as three concentric circles:

  • In the centre, the “Performance of Tasks” – sometimes referred to as “Doing the Right Thing”. These are the technical competencies of the role.


  • In the next circle, the “Approach to Tasks” – sometimes referred to as “Doing the Thing Right”. This refers to the intellectual, ethical and analytical competencies of the role.


  • The outer circle, encompassing the other two, is for “Professionalism” – sometimes referred to as “The Right Person doing it”


Harden RM, Callahan D, Crosby JR, et al Outcome-Based Education AMEE Guide No. 14 (1999)