Issue: Medical educators share the belief that fostering the development of lifelong learning skills is a fundamental task for teachers and learners in all stages of a physician’s education: undergraduate medical education, graduate medical education, and continuing medical education. A significant challenge to developing and implementing best practices in lifelong learning is the varied interpretation and application of its related terminology, such as ‘self-directed learning’ in this context. Evidence: This paper discusses the scholarly origins of key terms in lifelong learning (‘self-directed learning’ and ‘self-regulated learning’) and explores their commonalities and their common conflation. Implication: The authors propose a renewed attention to precision in use of lifelong learning terminology in medical education across the spectrum as a way to best design and deploy impactful educational experiences for learners at all levels.
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