Learning in Practice: A Valuation of Context in Time-Variable Medical Training

Pim W. Teunissen*, Jennifer R. Kogan, Olle ten Cate, Larry D. Gruppen, Lorelei A. Lingard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The logical consequence of implementing competency-based education is moving to time-variable training. Competency-based, time-variable training (CBTVT) requires an understanding of how learners interact with their learning context and how that leads to competence. In this article, the authors discuss this relationship. They first explain that the time required to achieve competence in clinical practice depends on the availability of clinical experiences that are conducive to ongoing competence development. This requires both curricular flexibility in light of the differences in individual learners' development and a balance between longitudinal placements and transitions to different environments. Along with the deliberate use of the opportunities that learning environments offer, there is value for learners in spending ample time-in-context. For instance, guided independence is possible when trainees do not progress immediately after meeting curricular learning objectives. Next, the potential implications of CBTVT can be illustrated by two learning perspectivesSfard's acquisition and participation metaphorswhich leads to the assertion that competence is both an individual characteristic and a quality that emerges from a purposeful social interaction between individuals and their context. This theory recognizes that the deliberate use of context could be used to approach learning as acquiring collective competence. Based on this relationship between learner, context, and competence, the authors propose an approach to CBTVT that recognizes that all learners will have to meet a number of standard preset learning targets in their workplace, while still having room for further context-specific competence development and personal growth within strategically organized learning environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S22-S26
Number of pages5
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018




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