How can physicians' learning styles drive educational planning?

Acad Med. 2005 Jul;80(7):680-4. doi: 10.1097/00001888-200507000-00013.


As changes in health care delivery systems and in the global burden of disease call for a reassessment of how tomorrow's physicians should be educated--indeed, for a reconsideration of the diversity of roles the physician should play--there is an immediate need to produce continuing medical education (CME) programs with real impact. Curriculum planners are questioning both the content of medical education and the methods of instruction and training. The product, or content, and the mechanism for its delivery have been defined and discussed, but a significant body of literature has shown that new knowledge does not necessarily lead to new behavior. Ample evidence exists in the CME literature to support the implementation of more active and self-directed learning strategies to promote the desired change in behaviors. The question, then, that is the focus of this article is how educational planning might be better guided by an understanding of how physicians learn within the continuing medical education domain. Revisiting the principles of David Kolb's Learning Styles Inventory, the authors propose applying his experiential learning model to overall curriculum design work. The authors argue that promoting the application of all learning styles in sequence in an educational encounter is a most desirable approach, and that this approach to learning could extend far beyond individual learners to influence how every component of medical education is designed, from the individual lecture or class activity to entire courses or programs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Competence
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / methods
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / trends*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Humans
  • Models, Educational*
  • Problem-Based Learning*
  • Program Development
  • Teaching / methods