Teaching and learning in medical education: How theory can inform practice

David M. Kaufman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

33 Scopus citations


This chapter describes 10 selected theoretical approaches to education, exploring their implications for the practice of medical education. The theoretical approaches are social cognitive theory, reflective practice, transformative learning, self-directed learning, experiential learning, situated learning, communities of practice, constructivism, sociomateriality and adult learning principles. The chapter then describes each one, highlighting its major constructs, and present implications of the theory for educational practice. Jean Piaget’s research regarding cognitive development processes constituted the theory of how experience is used to model intelligence. Constructivism has multiple roots in twentieth-century psychology and philosophy. It emerged from Piaget’s developmental perspective. There are two major strands of constructivist perspective: cognitive constructivist and social-cultural (socio-constructivist). Self-directed learning is an integral aspect of several theoretical approaches to learning, including cognitive, social, humanist, and constructivist. Self-directed, lifelong learning (SDL) is increasingly essential in the development and maintenance of professional competence.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnderstanding Medical Education
Subtitle of host publicationEvidence, Theory, and Practice
Number of pages33
ISBN (Electronic)9781119373780
ISBN (Print)9781119373827
StatePublished - 5 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult learning principles
  • Community of practice
  • Constructivism
  • Experiential learning
  • Medical education
  • Reflective practice
  • Self-directed learning
  • Situated learning
  • Social cognitive theory
  • Transformative learning


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