Adult learning theories: implications for learning and teaching in medical education: AMEE Guide No. 83

Med Teach. 2013 Nov;35(11):e1561-72. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2013.828153. Epub 2013 Sep 4.


There are many theories that explain how adults learn and each has its own merits. This Guide explains and explores the more commonly used ones and how they can be used to enhance student and faculty learning. The Guide presents a model that combines many of the theories into a flow diagram which can be followed by anyone planning learning. The schema can be used at curriculum planning level, or at the level of individual learning. At each stage of the model, the Guide identifies the responsibilities of both learner and educator. The role of the institution is to ensure that the time and resources are available to allow effective learning to happen. The Guide is designed for those new to education, in the hope that it can unravel the difficulties in understanding and applying the common learning theories, whilst also creating opportunities for debate as to the best way they should be used.

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Models, Educational
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Motivation
  • Self Concept
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Teaching / methods*