Critical Thinking Skills and Learning Styles in Foreign Trained Physical Therapists Enrolled in a Masters Program

Purpose/Hypothesis : The development of critical thinking skills in physical therapy students is emphasized by both physical therapists education programs and the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education. There is no available literature to date on critical thinking skills in foreign trained physical therapists. The purpose of this study was to assess critical thinking skills in foreign trained physical therapists attending a post-professional Masters program in the United States. In addition, learning styles were examined to see if there was any correlation between the development of critical thinking skills and a studentÕs learning style.Number of Subjects : In 2011-2012, 18 students in a Master of Science Post-professional Physical Therapy education program consented to participate. All students received their initial physical therapy training in India.Materials/Methods : A repeat measures design was used to study studentsÕ outcome on critical thinking over a one-year period. Students completed an online version of the Health Science Reasoning Test (HSRT) and the Kolb Learning Style Inventory, version 4 (KLSI) at the beginning of their program. The students completed the HSRT two additional times: at the end of their second academic semester and again at the end of their third academic semester.Results : Results of the repeated measures ANOVA on the composite overall scores on the HSRT indicated a statistically significant increase in composite scores between times 1 and 3 and times 2 and 3. There were no significant increases in subgroup scores on the HSRT between times 1 and 3. On the KLSI reflecting was the majority learning style, but there were no significant differences among the styles. Both Abstract Conceptualization and the combination of Abstract Conceptualization and Concrete Experimentation were strongly correlated with the HSRT.Conclusions : The HSRT detected statistically significant changes in studentsÕ critical thinking skills over the one-year period. Based on normative data, the students started at the lower end of a strong HSRT composite score and improved to the upper end of the strong range. Various curricular strategies were used to engage students in the learning process and may have contributed to this improvement in scores. There were no statistically significant differences in the distribution of learning styles in these students. This may suggest as a cohort, students have multimodal learning styles and demonstrate unique individual learning abilities. Correlations indicated that students with a strong ability for abstract conceptualization and a combination of abstract conceptualization and concrete experimentation were associated with higher HSRT scores.Clinical Relevance : There is no available literature to date on critical thinking skills in foreign trained physical therapists. This study provides some baseline data as to critical thinking skills in a cohort of students completing a Masters program in the United States. These students subsequently take the licensing exam and practice in the United States.

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  • Control #: 2020832
  • Type: Poster
  • Event/Year: CSM2015
  • Authors: Tracy J. Brudvig, Douglas J. Mattson, Anthony Guarino
  • Keywords: critical thinking|Kolb Learning Styles|Health Science Reasoning Test

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