Extending the use of the conceptions of learning and teaching (COLT) instrument to the postgraduate setting

Jaime L. Pacifico, Walther van Mook, Jeroen Donkers, Johanna C.G. Jacobs, Cees van der Vleuten, Sylvia Heeneman

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Background: Several studies have shown that conceptions of teachers on teaching and learning can influence the teaching practices and behavior in higher education. This association is also found in undergraduate medical education but not yet established in postgraduate medical setting. An instrument, Conceptions of Learning and Teaching (COLT) was developed to measure conception of teachers in undergraduate medical education. COLT is a 3-factor 18-item questionnaire. The objective of this study is to evaluate if COLT is valid for postgraduate medical education. Methods: We invited postgraduate clinical faculty from 3 hospitals in the Netherlands to fill out the COLT. Confirmatory and exploratory factor analysis were performed to evaluate the fit of the postgraduate clinical faculty data to the COLT. Analysis of variance was done to evaluate if there was difference among the 3 hospitals in terms of the response by the clinical faculty. Results: Confirmatory factor analysis showed that the postgraduate faculty data had a 2 factor structure after removal of five items. These factors were Teacher Centeredness (TC) and combined Appreciation of Active Learning and Orientation to Professional Practice (A-P) and were considered as comparable to the factors in the original COLT, expressing the post-graduate learning and teaching setting. As several items were removed, the fit was suboptimal, yet did suggest validity for use of the COLT for postgraduate medical education. Conclusion: The modified COLT can be used to measure conceptions of teaching and learning in postgraduate medical education. We recommend further study to improve the factor structure of the modified COLT.

Original languageEnglish
Article number32
Number of pages6
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Learning
  • Teaching
  • Postgraduate Setting


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