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Med Teach. 2018 Jan 15:1-6. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2018.1425546. [Epub ahead of print]

Learning science as a potential new source of understanding and improvement for continuing education and continuing professional development.

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a University of Connecticut School of Nursing , Storrs , CT , USA.
b Department of Community Medicine and Health Care , University of Connecticut School of Medicine , Farmington , CT , USA.
c Faculty Development , Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, University of Connecticut , Storrs , CT , USA.
d Ferris State University , Big Rapids , MI , USA.
e Learner Centered Teaching Consultants , Big Rapids , MI , USA.


Learning science is an emerging interdisciplinary field that offers educators key insights about what happens in the brain when learning occurs. In addition to explanations about the learning process, which includes memory and involves different parts of the brain, learning science offers effective strategies to inform the planning and implementation of activities and programs in continuing education and continuing professional development. This article provides a brief description of learning, including the three key steps of encoding, consolidation and retrieval. The article also introduces four major learning-science strategies, known as distributed learning, retrieval practice, interleaving, and elaboration, which share the importance of considerable practice. Finally, the article describes how learning science aligns with the general findings from the most recent synthesis of systematic reviews about the effectiveness of continuing medical education.

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