This presentation describes rationale, planning, implementation, and impact of an educational intervention in which knowledge, student experience and skills of a 3rd year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT3) student provided curricular insight, planning, and content delivery for a health communication unit in a first-year DPT course.
To incorporate student perspective, DPT3 was queried regarding module content, depth of information, and suggested pedagogy. Then, the faculty member mentored the student to create and deliver a module outline, learning objectives, asynchronous PPT lecture, and an interactive practice lab on relevant communication skills for 60 1st year DPT students (DPT1s) in course.
Project outcomes were multidimensional. Curricular products included audiotaped Powerpoint lecture and lab handout. A brief Likert-scale anonymous questionnaire with comment section was administered to DPT1s; the scale ranged from 1=Strongly Disagree to 5=Strongly Agree. 39 completed questionnaires were returned. 85% of students strongly agreed or agreed (mean=4.2) that information level and lab activities were appropriate for first year course in physical therapist education; those who responded <3 felt that topic was “too simple”. 95% of students strongly agreed or agreed (mean=4.3) DPT3 enhanced topic interest. DPT1s commented that he provided insight, “lessons-learned”, was “great hearing from student who has clinical experience” and been “in our position”. One student mentioned it was “more difficult to regard him as an authority” compared to faculty. Open response questionnaire administered to DPT3 echoed positive findings of DPT1s; delivery of some content in this manner is beneficial for both student cohorts. He felt it built his confidence in the content, as well as relevant clinical skills.
Faculty mentor and course director feedback were also positive. By creating a sustainable student-informed educational unit, it decreased faculty workload for current and subsequent years. Having positive student outcomes, future revisions will be minimal. Use of DPT3 student for lecture and lab also put these novice students more at ease during this course early in their curriculum.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Shaping the Future of Physical Therapy Education
This innovative project is consistent with a democratic, participatory philosophy to allow students to act as change agents. Students can have more than a token, passive role in physical therapy education; they can be integral in curriculum review, development, and delivery. It is one solution to overcommitted faculty who have competing interests of heavy teaching loads, as well as service and scholarship requirements. However, its use can be limited by particular course content, the program's educational philosophy, and ability for curriculum flexibility across student cohorts. It is also imperative to assess the qualities of advanced DPT students assisting in the curriculum and ensure there is appropriate mentoring, support, and credit or remuneration provided.
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