Addressing learner disorientation: give them a roadmap

Med Teach. 2014 Aug;36(8):685-91. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2014.889813. Epub 2014 Mar 7.


This article describes the problem of disorientation in students as they become doctors. Disorientation arises because students have a poor or inaccurate understanding of what they are training to become. If they do not know what they are becoming it is hard for them to prioritise and contextualise their learning, to make sense of information about where they are now (assessment and feedback) or to determine the steps they need to take to develop (formative feedback and "feedforward"). It is also a barrier to the early development of professional identity. Using the analogy of a map, the paper describes the idea of a curriculum that is articulated as a developmental journey--a "roadmap curriculum". This is not incompatible with a competency-based curriculum, and certainly requires the same integration of knowledge, skills and attitudes. However, the semantic essence of a roadmap curriculum is fundamentally different; it must describe the pathway or pathways of development toward being a doctor in ways that are both authentic to qualified doctors and meaningful to learners. Examples from within and outside medicine are cited. Potential advantages and implications of this kind of curricular reform are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion / prevention & control*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical*
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Physician's Role
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Teaching