‘One size does not fit all’: The value of person-centred analysis in health professions education research

Rashmi A. Kusurkar*, Marianne Mak-van der Vossen, Joyce Kors, Jan Willem Grijpma, Stéphanie M.E. van der Burgt, Andries S. Koster, Anne de la Croix

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Health professions education (HPE) research is dominated by variable-centred analysis, which enables the exploration of relationships between different independent and dependent variables in a study. Although the results of such analysis are interesting, an effort to conduct a more person-centred analysis in HPE research can help us in generating a more nuanced interpretation of the data on the variables involved in teaching and learning. The added value of using person-centred analysis, next to variable-centred analysis, lies in what it can bring to the applications of the research findings in educational practice. Research findings of person-centred analysis can facilitate the development of more personalized learning or remediation pathways and customization of teaching and supervision efforts. Making the research findings more recognizable in practice can make it easier for teachers and supervisors to understand and deal with students. The aim of this article is to compare and contrast different methods that can be used for person-centred analysis and show the incremental value of such analysis in HPE research. We describe three methods for conducting person-centred analysis: cluster, latent class and Q‑sort analyses, along with their advantages and disadvantage with three concrete examples for each method from HPE research studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-251
Number of pages7
JournalPerspectives on Medical Education
Issue number4
Early online date7 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

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