Planning and Implementation of Guided Self-study in an Undergraduate Physiotherapy Curriculum in Switzerland—A Feasibility Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Self-directed learning (andragogy) or self-determined learning (heutagogy) can be implemented in guided self-study (GSS) with the aim to foster changes in the knowledge and skills of physiotherapy students in a higher education setting. To date, there is a lack of evidence for the use of GSS in higher education for physiotherapy.
Aim:This study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of developing and implementing GSS in an undergraduate physiotherapy educational program in Switzerland. In addition, the effectiveness of GSS in bringing changes in knowledge and skills was assessed.
Method:Full-time undergraduate physiotherapy students (n = 49) from the third semester volunteered in this feasibility study. Students were randomly allocated into a GSS group or a control group (CG) in the period from October to November 2019. The GSS group prepared a total of 3 clinical cases. Each case was processed in an 8-day cycle. On day 1, the clinical case (ie, description of a patient and symptoms) and learning goals were provided to the students electronically. The students prepared the cases in groups from days 2 to 7. They were guided 2 times by the tutor (physical meeting and via Skype) during this preparation phase. The results of group work were presented and reflected on during a moderated plenum session (90 minutes) on day 8. The feasibility of this higher education study was operationalized as follows: exposure (“dose,” ie, the number of GSS sessions performed over 90 minutes, as well as the content of the cases and the learning objectives); students’ responsiveness, with an a priori set 100% willingness to participate on day 8; program differentiation, to illustrate differences between the content of GSS cases and the curriculum; and degree of acceptability. In addition, an assessment was made of the total scores in the objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) and written examinations, as well as the amount of GSS. Statistical analyses were conducted using an intention-to-treat approach.
Results: All 3 GSS sessions on day 8 lasted the scheduled 90 minutes. The content of the presented cases was aligned with the learning objectives. The responsiveness of students willing to participate on day 8 was 42%. In program differentiation, no differences in content were found between the GSS presentation content and the usual curriculum content when compared with the learning aims. Objective structured clinical examination grades and written examination grades were similar for the GSS and CG. The analysis of the focus group interview showed a low degree of acceptability indicating that the students’ workload was high during the GSS period.
Conclusions: This study showed that this GSS program for undergraduate physiotherapy students in its current form is “feasible with modification.” Modification of the study protocol (eg, better time planning in the academic calendar) is needed to improve the students’ responsiveness. Alternatively, classroom hours may be reduced to favor self-study time. Such adjustments to the timetable should allow the physiotherapy students to better prepare the clinical cases. The effectiveness of the GSS and normal curriculum on OSCE and written examination scores was similar, probably due to the observed low students’ acceptability
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Medical Education and Curricular Development
Volume7
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2020

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