The Use of a Social Networking Site versus a Traditional Course Management System for Discussion Boards in a Physical Therapy Clinical Education Course

Purpose/Hypothesis : To compare the preference of physical therapy studentsÕ participation in online discussion in either a course management system (control group) or a social networking site (experimental group).Number of Subjects : The subjects include 87 students enrolled in the Walsh University Physical Therapy classes of 2013, 2014 and 2015. Subjects include males and females between the ages of 21-34. The students were enrolled in an off campus clinical education experience for 40 hours of physical therapy practice. These subjects represent a convenience sample. Each student was randomly assigned into either the experimental or control group. Students who elected not to participate in the study (n=3) were assigned to the control group (ECN discussion board) for completion of course requirements. They were not required to complete the follow-up survey questions at the completion of the course.Materials/Methods : The students participated in a discussion board (which is a typical requirement of the course they are enrolled in) on either a course management system or a social networking site. The course management system used was the Electronic Course Network (ECN) that is utilized at Walsh University. A closed Facebook group was the social networking site used for the experimental group. A closed group ensured that group members included only the students and instructors in the class and that comments were private and not viewable by the general public. The discussion questions posted for each group were identical and similar to questions used for past cohorts. After the completion of the off-site clinical education experience, the subjects were asked to fill out surveys regarding their preferences/experiences. The survey tool used was generated for the purpose of this study. Instrument reliability and validity have not been previously studied.Results : The results were statistically significant in the findings that the Facebook group: - Experienced more enjoyment in participating in the discussion boards - Found more benefit to having support (via the discussion board) from their peers/instructor while participating in their clinical experience - Found the discussion boards to be less time consuming - And were more likely to feel the discussion board helped the transition from the classroom to the clinic.Conclusions : The results of this study highlight the convenience of completing course requirements via social media while allowing the student to feel more connected and supported while completing course work off campus.Clinical Relevance : The results of this study will assist faculty in choosing the most appropriate discussion platform based on objectives. The results of this study suggest utilizing social networking sites for discussions to increase student satisfaction. Further qualitative and quantitative analysis of the data will be performed to investigate frequency and quality of postings between the two groups.

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  • Control #: 2020478
  • Type: Poster
  • Event/Year: CSM2015
  • Authors: Amy Hassen, Christine McCallum
  • Keywords: Social Media|Clinical Education |Electronic Discussion

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