Academic Primer Series: Eight Key Papers about Education Theory
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Academic Primer Series: Eight Key Papers about Education Theory



Many teachers adopt instructional methods based on assumptions of best practices without attention to or knowledge of supporting education theory.  Familiarity with a variety of theories informs education that is efficient, strategic, and evidence-based. As part of the Academic Life in Emergency Medicine Faculty Incubator Program a list of key education theories for junior faculty was developed.


A list of key papers on theories relevant to medical education was generated using an expert panel, a virtual community of practice synthetic discussion, and a social media call for resources.  A three-round, Delphi-informed voting methodology including novice and expert educators produced a rank order of the top papers.


Thirty-four unique papers were identified. Eleven papers described general theories, while 23 papers focused on a specific theory. The top three ranked general education theories and top five ranked specific education theory papers are summarized. The relevance of each paper for junior faculty and faculty developers is also presented.


This paper presents a reading list of key papers for junior faculty in medical education roles. Three papers about general education theories and five papers about specific educational theories are identified and annotated. These papers may help provide foundational knowledge in education theory to inform junior faculty teaching practice.

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