Applying the learning theories to medical education: A commentary

Posted Posted in Commentary

Authors: Sivalingam Nalliah, Nazimah Idris.


Medical education of today continues to evolve to meet the challenges of the stakeholders. Medical professionals today are expected to play multiple roles besides being experts. Thus, the curriculum has to be developed in a manner that facilitates learners to achieve the intended goal of becoming a medical professional with multiple competencies. The understanding of learning theories will be helpful in designing and delivering the curriculum to meet the demands of producing a medical professional who would meet the CanMEDS model. This commentary explores and reflects on the learning theories of behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism as they have evolved over time and the application of these learning theories in medical education, particularly in the context of medical education in Malaysia. The authors are convinced that these three theories are not mutually exclusive but should be operationalized contextually and throughout the different stages of learning in the MBBS curriculum. Understanding these theories and their application will enhance the learning experience of students.

Keywords: learning theories, behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism, medical education.

Citation: IeJSME 2014 8(1): 50-57