Abstract: What follows is a contribution to the field of user modeling for adaptive teaching and learning programs especially in the medical field. The paper outlines existing approaches to the problem of extracting user information in a form that can be exploited by adaptive software. We focus initially on the so-called stereotyping method, which allocates users into classes adaptively, reflecting characteristics such as physical data, social background, and computer experience. The user classifications of the stereotyping method are however ad hoc and unprincipled, and they can be exploited by the adaptive system only after a large number of trials by various kinds of users. We argue that the remedy is to create a database of user ontologies from which readymade taxonomies can be derived in such a way as to enable associated software to support a variety of different types of users.