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This Online Supplement (OS) was inspired by our observation that teaching and assessment approaches are often applied without full awareness of their originating theories and paradigms, or attention to how they align with the teacher’s goals. Problems can arise when tools and strategies developed in the service of one paradigm of education are applied toward a goal better aligned with another paradigm.

There are six major paradigms of education that are relevant to health professions education (synthesizing ideas and theories from multiple perspectives, including psychology, philosophy, sociology, education, linguistics, and social anthropology). 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 educational experience across the full spectrum, from program admission to curriculum and beyond.

Awareness of the different paradigms, and how they work together, can support alignment of instructional strategies as well as appropriate assessment approaches.

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