Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Assessing the Effectiveness of a Clinical Instructor Online Training Module as Measured by Student Perception and Sustained Best Practices

Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Assessing the Effectiveness of a Clinical Instructor Online Training Module as Measured by Student Perception and Sustained Best Practices

Article excerpt

Due to current scrutiny of physical therapy (PT) clinical education, clinical education models require revisions with close examination of current practice, including best practices in clinical instructor (CI) education. Unfortunately, depth of research currently available to support these revisions is minimal, particularly in areas of research that investigate maintaining recently taught skills in CI training and students' perceived CI effectiveness following training. This study's purpose was to explore these areas. CIs (n=21) were assigned to either a control or treatment group. Treatment group-CIs completed an online module prior to supervising a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) student during a 9-week clinical rotation and then participated in data collection activities following the rotation. Data from control group-CIs established a baseline. Data from students' assessments of their CIs' performances yielded qualitative themes demonstrating differentiated learning environments and module-taught best practices for treatment group-students. Quantitative findings did not make a distinction between the two student groups. Lastly, treatment group-CIs maintained best practices after an inactive period. This study suggests CIs were able to maintain best practices using just-in-time education, distributed clinical practice, and reflection. By continuing examination of online CI education, PT clinical education can move toward new models through evidence-based CI best practices. J Allied Health 2015; 44(1):17-24.

DUE TO CURRENT SCRUTINY of physical therapy (PT) clinical education, revision of current clinical education models will take intentional steps examining not only length, setting, and number of clinical rotations but also best practices in clinical instructor (CI) education and enhancing student outcomes.1-11 Unfortunately, depth of research currently available to support these revisions is minimal, particularly in the areas of research that investigate perceived CI instructional effectiveness by Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students and the CIs' ability to maintain best practice strategies after CI training. The American Physical Therapy Association's (APTA) Credentialed Clinical Instructor Program (CCIP) provides a traditional CI training model that has research to support a potential link of CI education to enhanced student outcomes.12 However, questions elude the research in how the level of CI training influences students' perceptions of their CIs' instructional skills and if CIs can maintain recently learned, best instructional practices over time.

These two questions became the focus for this mixed-methods study, where an online module was used to provide "just in time" education for CIs immediately prior to taking DPT students for a 9-week clinical rotation from a DPT program located in the Midwest. The hypotheses associated with these research questions predicted several outcomes. The first hypothesis predicted that students would rate module-taught CIs higher than non-module-taught CIs by differentiating module-taught best practices reflected in responses about promoting professional growth and providing preferred learning environments. The second hypothesis predicted that after a 9-week inactive period, treatment-group CIs would maintain and utilize online module-taught best practices as a key resource in order to answer questions in a follow-up case.

Review of Literature

CI development through traditional training has essential factors that focus on acquiring skills in the areas of instruction, professional behavior, and evaluation skills.11,13-15 A deeper look into the literature reveals that students respond not only to the use of professional behaviors by their CIs but also to enhanced instructional skills.13-21 One mode of enhancing instructional skills takes place through the CCIP offered by the APTA. The CCIP credentials CIs and has research to support that credentialing does contribute to certain enhanced clinical instructional skills. …

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