Cognitive Mapping Illustrates DPT Student Learning Through a Pro Bono Patient Case

Purpose/Hypothesis : Cognitive mapping has been used to explore the thoughts and perceptions of patients and caregivers in their lived experience. This study used cognitive mapping to examine the learning experience of 3 male PT students who volunteered to assist in the evaluation and treatment of a patient seen for pro bono care. The cognitive maps are illustrations of each studentÕs perception and expression of the benefits of experiential learning.Number of Subjects : Three male DPT students, one from the 1st year curriculum, two from the 3rd year of a PBL program in Texas.Materials/Methods : The client who sustained bilateral wrist fractures 12 weeks ago saw a licensed PT faculty member and the 3 students biweekly for 4 weeks of intervention. This team conducted the evaluation, performed clinical decision-making and prioritized treatment. Role modeling and Socratic questioning were utilized to lead the students in problem solving. Subsequent to discharge, each student developed a cognitive map by individually answering the question, ÒWhat did you learn from this experience?Ó This process includes writing words or phrases on Post-It Notes and arranging the notes on a poster board showing relationships between concepts. Additionally, the students collaborated to develop one list of common learning experiences. Two independent researchers analyzed the maps then collaborated to agree upon the common themes that emerged.Results : The maps produced by the 3rd year students portrayed very similar concrete information in contrast to the 1st year studentÕs focus on less tangible issues. Student consensus created one list of common learning concepts seen among the themes below as underlined constituents: 1) An appreciation of foundational knowledge such as anatomy, biomechanics, joint structure and function. 2) The value of experiential learning through live patient interaction from start of care to discharge including evaluation skills, critical thinking, priority setting, hands-on skill development, documentation and interpersonal relations. 3) Relationality in patient treatment allowed students to practice patient-centered care and professional behaviors as a clinician through pro bono service, fostering patient trust, showing compassion, communicating, active listening, and teamwork. 4) Confirmation of career choice by the students that they had indeed found their calling through this gratifying experiential learning opportunity.Conclusions : This experiential learning opportunity involving a patient in need of pro bono service allowed student learning, as reflected in the cognitive maps, to exceed expectations gained from a mere observational experience and to achieve an applied understanding of the skills needed to be a professional.Clinical Relevance : By providing a living contextual situation for learning, such as this patient in a pro bono setting, students reported deepened student learning and being better able to demonstrate competency in professional behaviors necessary for becoming effective physical therapists.

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  • Control #: 2026101
  • Type: Poster
  • Event/Year: CSM2015
  • Authors: Lynne Hughes, Julie A. Thompson, Susan G. Klappa
  • Keywords: cognitive mapping|student learning|experiential learning

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