The application and future of key learning theories in interprofessional education

This source preferred by Sarah Hean

Authors: Hean, S., Craddock, D. and O'Halloran, C.

Start date: 1 July 2008

IPE is no longer theory less. Many theories from a range of disciplines have been applied to the field, but with little apparent consensus on which theories have the greatest utility. This paper aims to contribute to the debate on the theoretical underpinnings of IPE by presenting a heuristic overview of contemporary learning theories and their current use in IPE.

Following a brief description of a scoping exercise carried out to assess the current application of learning theories in IPE, the paper presents a map of the evolution and relationships between these theories as used in IPE.

This will help researchers/ practitioners reflect on the theoretical perspectives they choose to underpin curriculum design and evaluation. It explores specifically the application of both behaviourist (e.g. interprofessional competencies) and constructivist approaches (e.g., stage theories) as well as those theories that focus on the context of learning such as socio-cultural learning and, at a macro level, activity theory and expansive learning It also pays particular attention to repositioning the ubiquitous, albeit superficially employed adult learning theories. The paper was presented to participants of a recent seminar series and their opinion on theoretical priorities recorded. These opinions are integrated into the conclusions of the paper where comparisons between learning theories are made. Theories are presented as a tool kit to be employed dependent on context and gaps in the literature, opportunities and priorities for future theoretical development are discussed.

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