There are six major paradigms of education relevant to health professions education: behavourism, cognitivism, constructivism, sociocultural, humanism, and, transformative.
Each paradigm of education has a different perspective on the purpose of education, what it means to learn, and the roles of teachers and students in the learning process. It is important to be aware of the various paradigms of education because they influence education design and practice - how students are taught, how they are assessed, and what is valued and included in the curriculum. Awareness of the different paradigms, and how they work together, can support alignment of teaching and assessment approaches.
Paradigms of education are constantly evolving. Currently, we tend to see more education efforts based upon the first three paradigms outlined in the table below: behaviourism, cognitivism, and constructivism. In the health professions, we're seeing increased inclusion of humanist and transformative paradigms of education. At any given point in history, multiple paradigms of education can be seen in operation in our health professions curricula, some more dominant than others. The table below, adapted from Baker et al. (in press), presents the paradigms separately; but in typical practice, there is overlap across paradigms.
Baker L, Wright S, Mylopoulos M, Kulasegaram M, Ng S. Aligning and applying the paradigms and practices of education. Academic Medicine; 2019 (epub ahead of print). doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002693 6park.com