February 2021 Invited Speaker Rounds

doug larsen

Peeling Back the Layers: Examining our Assumptions About Learning in Education Practice and Research

Douglas P. Larsen, M.D., M.Ed.

Professor, Neurology & Pediatrics
Department of Neurology
Washington University in St. Louis

Date: Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Time: 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Zoom ID: For connection details, please email ches.communications@ubc.ca.


We regularly design curricula, create assessments, and conduct research with the assumption that learning is a single process with many indivisible facets. This presentation questions that assumption by raising the possibility that learning processes are different at the cognitive, social, and system levels. Many of the problems that arise in education come from a failure to account for these differences and the challenges intrinsic to each type of learning. Making explicit the assumptions of learning allows the educator and the researcher to search for solutions that optimize education outcomes. This presentation will consider tools and theories which might be useful to explore these differences including retrieval practice, cultural historical activity theory (CHAT), and actor-network theory (ANT).


Douglas Larsen, M.D., M.Ed. is a medical education researcher, teacher, and practicing pediatric neurologist. His research interests include self-regulated and socially-regulated learning as well as the role of memory in education. Dr. Larsen earned his medical degree at the University of Utah School of Medicine in 2003. He completed residency training in pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and then trained in pediatric neurology at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University. He has been on the faculty at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine since 2008. He received a master’s degree in education from the University of Cincinnati in 2010. He is the Director of Medical Student Education for the Division of Pediatric Neurology and Associate Clerkship Director for Neurology. He has taught courses on the science of learning and served in leadership roles for the curriculum renewal at the Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Larsen has received numerous teaching awards from medical students and residents, including the Samuel R. Goldstein Leadership Award in Medical Student Education—Washington University School of Medicine’s highest teaching award. He has served on the American Academy of Neurology Education Research Subcommittee from 2011-2016, and currently serves on the Association of American Medical College’s Research in Medical Education program planning committee. Dr. Larsen was a Macy Faculty Scholar of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation from 2014-2016. His most recent research has been funded by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He serves as an associate editor for Advances in Health Sciences Education and The Journal of Graduate Medical Education.

Accredited by UBC CPD




The University of British Columbia Division of Continuing Professional Development (UBC CPD) is fully accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Continuing Medical Education (CACME) to provide study credits for continuing medical education for physicians. This program meets the certification criteria of the College of Family Physicians of Canada and has been certified by UBC CPD for up to 15 Mainpro+ Group Learning credits (1.5 per session). Each physician should claim only those credits accrued through participation in the activity. CFPC Session ID#: 192711-001

RCPSC Accreditation

The CHES Cutting Edge Speaker Series is a self-approved group learning activity (Section 1) as defined by the Maintenance of Certification Program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.