The Royal Veterinary College may be the oldest veterinary school in the English-speaking world but it is at the cutting-edge of teaching practice. Members of the College have researched the development and application of adult learning theory within different educational contexts. This encompasses the principles of lifelong and independent learning, the central themes of the LIVE centre.

This work has included an examination of comparable cognitive development models, such Bloom’s (1956) learning taxonomy (cognitive domain), Gagné’s (1970) learning hierarchies model; Perry’s (1970) model of intellectual and ethical development, and Biggs’ SOLO taxonomy (Biggs and Collis 1982, Biggs 2003).

What all these models have in common is a logical progression from low level cognitive processing to high level cognitive processing. This can also be aligned with Marton and Säljö’s (1976) dichotomy of deep versus surface learning, where deep learning is associated with high level cognitive processing such as problem-solving, and surface learning is associated with low level cognitive processing such as rote memorisation. High level thinking can also be stimulated through experiential learning, of which Kolb’s (1985) work has been the most notable. Also central to discussions on independent learning is the work by Malcolm Knowles (1968, 1975) on self-directed learning.

Understanding that one of the aims of veterinary education is to develop independent, lifelong learners – practitioners capable of problem-solving, critical thinking and reflection – this work is providing a framework for understanding and representing learning processes within other LIVE projects.

Innovative MSc degree

The RVC offers an innovative MSc in Veterinary Education aimed at veterinary and para-veterinary professionals working in education and workplace training. The flexible programme can be taken on campus or by distance learning.

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