Using the think aloud protocol in health professions education: an interview method for exploring thought processes: AMEE Guide No. 151

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Medical teacher




Methods; decision-making; medical education research


The think aloud protocol (TAP) has two components, the think aloud interview, a technique for verbal data collection, and protocol analysis, a technique for predicting and analyzing verbal data. TAP is a useful method for those attempting to observe, explore, and understand individuals' thoughts, which remain among the most difficult research areas in health professions education. Notably, the long, complex history and heterogeneous implementation of variations of TAP can make it difficult to understand and implement rigorously. In this Guide, we define the TAP and related concepts, describe the origins, outline applications, offer a detailed roadmap for rigorous implementation as a technique for data collection and/or data analysis, and suggest opportunities for adaptation of the traditional TAP. We aim to arm researchers with the tools to implement a rigorous think aloud interview, while explaining its origins to empower them to adapt the traditional TAP intentionally and justifiably to modern health professions education research.


Health, Human Function, and Rehabilitation Sciences