Clinical Performances of Physical Therapist Students in Problem-Based, Mixed-Model, and Traditional Curricula

van Duijn, Arie J.; Bevins, Sharon Irish
September 2005
Journal of Physical Therapy Education (American Physical Therapy;Fall2005, Vol. 19 Issue 2, p15
Academic Journal
Background and Purpose. Problem-basal learning (PBL) is a curricular approach that has gained significant popularity in physical therapist education. The major objective of therapist education is tile preparation of competent clinicians. The purpose of this study was to determine whether differences existed between the clinical performance of physical therapist students in PBL curricula, mixed-model PBL curricula, and traditional curricula, as measured by the Physical therapy Clinical Performance Instrument (CPI). Subjects. A total of 22 physical therapist education programs participated in this study. The total number of students participating was 110, with 20 in the PBL curriculum group, 40 in tile mixed-model PBL curriculum group, and 50 in tile traditional curriculum group. Methods. The mid-term CPI ratings ror each student's first clinical education experience following completion of academic coursework during the 2002-2003 academic year were collected in a retrospective manner. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed for each of the 24 CPI items to evaluate differences between the curriculum groups related to clinical performance. In addition, the mean overall CPI score was calculated for each subject, and an ANOVA was performed to analyze differences between curriculum groups. AVOVAS were performed to analyze differences between the 3 groups for subsets of CPI scores measuring professional behavior, clinical problem solving, and clinical skills. Results. No statistically significant differences between the means of the ratings for any of the 24 individual CPI items were found. This study found no statistically significant difference (F2 = .223, P > .05) in the mean overall CPI rating between the PBL curriculum group (mean = 86.95), the mixed-model PBL curriculum group (mean 87.01), and the traditional curriculum group (mean = 85.32). In addition, this study found no statistically significant differences between the groups for the mean subset scores of professional behavior, clinical problem solving, and clinical skills. Discussion and Conclusion. There was no difference in clinical performance as measured by the CPI between physical therapy students in PBL curricula, mixed-model curricula, and traditional curricula. Additionally, there were no differences between groups for the subset scores of professional behavior, clinical problem solving, and clinical skills. Implementation of PBL as a curricular approach neither positively nor negatively affects CPI scores. PBL is clearly not the only alternative to traditional, lecturer based methodology. Prospective students and faculty should select a program that provides a good fit for their individual learning preferences.


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