Understanding Learning and the Components of the Learning Process in Medical Education: A Review of the Literature


  •   Verona Sukrajh

  •   Adegoke Olusegun Adefolalu


Active learning can be described as any evidence-based strategy that seeks to engage the students during their learning process by deliberately involving them in participating in some form of meaningful activities, upon which they are subsequently tasked to think about what they have just done. It is learner-centred in its approach, thereby fostering deeper learning on the part of the student. The understanding of how people learn has developed substantially over the decades with different theories and approaches to learning haven been described by various authors in the literature. The importance of this is that all these postulated theories have offered greater insight into the learning process in particular. The current paper aims to describe the learning process and its components with a view towards providing a better understanding of the learning process, exploring some of the theoretical background that underpinned the learning and the learning process.

Keywords: medical education, learning process, metacognition, active learning


CC. Bonwell, and JA. Elison. Active learning: creating excitement in the classroom. George Washington University. Ashe-Eric Higher Education Report 1, Washington DC, 1991.

AW. Chickering, and ZF. Gamson. Seven principles for good practice. American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) Bulletin, vol. 39, pp. 3-7. 1987.

B. Graffam. Active learning in medical education: Strategies for beginning implementation. Medical Teacher, vol. 29, pp. 38-42, 2007.

JD. Vermunt. Metacognitive and affective aspects of learning styles and strategies: A phenomenographic analysis. Higher Education, vol. 31, pp. 25-50, 1996.

O. Ten Cate, L. Snell, K. Mann, and J. Vermunt. 2004. Orientating teaching towards the learning process. Academic Medicine, vol. 79, no. 3, pp. 209-228, 2004.

DM. Torre, BJ. Daley, JL. Sebastian, and DM Elnicki. Overview of current learning theories for medical educators. The American Journal of Medicine, vol. 119, no. 10, pp. 903-907, 2006.

L. Vygotsky. Interaction between learning and development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1978.

KJ. Topping. Trends in peer learning. Educational Psychology, vol. 25, no. 6, pp. 631-645, 2005.

O. Ten Cate, and S. Durning. Dimensions and psychology of peer teaching in medical education. Medical Teacher, vol. 29, no. 6, pp. 546-552, 2007.

DCM. Taylor, and H. Hamdy. Adult learning theories: Implications for learning and teaching in medical education: AMEE Guide No 83. Medical Teacher, vol. 35, pp. e156-e1572, 2013.

DH. Schunk. Learning theories: an educational perspective. (6th ed). Boston: Pearson. 2012.

DW. Johnson. RJ. Johnson, and KA Smith. Cooperative learning returns to college: what evidence is there that it works? Change, vol. 30, pp. 27-35, 1988.

DW. Johnson and RJ. Johnson. An educational psychology success story: social interdependence theory and cooperative learning. Educational Researcher, vol. 38, no. 5, pp. 365- 379, 2009.

KJ. Topping, & S. Ehly. 2001. Peer assisted learning: a framework for consultation. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, vol. 12, no 2, pp. 113-132, 2001.

D.M. Torre, C. van der Vleuten, and D. Dolmans. Theoretical perspectives and applications of group learning in Problem-based learning. Medical Teacher, vol 38. pp. 189-195, 2016.

DW. Johnson. & RJ. Johnson. New developments in social interdependence theory. Genetic. Social and General Psychology, vol. 131, no 4, pp. 285-358, 2005.

RM. Ryan, and EL. Deci. Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychology Association, vol. 55, no. 1, pp. 68-78, 2000.

RM. Ryan & ELL. Deci, E.L. Facilitating optimal motivation and psychological well-being across life’s domains. Canadian Psychology, vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 14-34, 2008.

O. Ten Cate, A. Rashmi, GC. Willams, and K. Willams, How self-determination theory can assist our understanding of teaching and learning processes in medical education. AMEE Guide No 59. Medical Teacher, vol. 33, pp. 961-973, 2011.

MVJ. Veerman, HAM. van Hout–Wolters, and P. Afflerbach, Metacognition and learning: conceptual and methodological considerations. Metacognition Learning, vol. 1, pp. 3-14, 2006.

E. Driessen. When I say… metacognition. Medical Education, vol. 48, pp. 561-562, 2014.

EA. Van Vliet, JC. Winnips, & N. Brouwer. Flipped class pedagogy enhances student metacognition and collaboration learning strategies in higher education but effects does not persist. CBE Life Sciences Education, vol. 14, pp. 1-10, 2015.

J. Metcalfe, Metacognitive judgements and control of study. Current Directions in Psychological Science, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 159-163, 2009.

KW. Thiede, & DJ. Therriault. Accuracy of metacognitive monitoring affects learning of texts. Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 95, no. 1, pp. 66-73, 2003.

NJ. Burman, CK. Boscardin, and SM. van Schaik, S.M. Career long learning: relationship between cognitive and metacognitive skills. Medical Teacher, vol. 36, pp. 715-723, 2014.


How to Cite
Sukrajh, V., & Adefolalu, A. (2021). Understanding Learning and the Components of the Learning Process in Medical Education: A Review of the Literature. European Journal of Education and Pedagogy, 2(1), 69-72. https://doi.org/10.24018/ejedu.2021.2.1.53