A qualitative study of the clinical practice of graduates of a problem-based physical therapy program

Stanley Hanson Wilson, Florida International University


The purpose of this study was to examine the perspectives of three graduates of a problem-based leaning (PBL) physical therapy (PT) program about their clinical practice. The study used the qualitative methods of observations, interviews, and journaling to gather the data. Three sessions of audiotaped interviews and two observation sessions were conducted with three exemplars from Nova Southeastern University PBL PT program. Each participant also maintained a reflective journal. The data were analyzed using content analysis. A systematic filing system was used by employing a mechanical means of maintaining and indexing coded data and sorting data into coded classifications of subtopics or themes. All interview transcripts, field notes from observations, and journal accounts were read, and index sheets were appropriately annotated. From the findings of the study, it was noted that, from the participants' perspectives, they were practicing at typically expected levels as clinicians. The attributes that governed the perspectives of the participants about their physical therapy clinical practice included flexibility, reflection, analysis, decision-making, self-reliance, problem-solving, independent thinking, and critical thinking. Further, the findings indicated that the factors that influenced those attributes included the PBL process, parents' value system, self-reliant personality, innate personality traits, and deliberate choice. Finally, the findings indicated that the participants' perspectives, for the most part, appeared to support the espoused efficacy of the PBL educational approach. In conclusion, there is evidence that the physical therapy clinical practice of the participants were positively impacted by the PBL curriculum. Among the many attributes they noted which governed these perspectives, problem-solving, as postulated by Barrows, was one of the most frequently mentioned benefits gained from their PBL PT training. With more schools adopting the PBL approach, this research will hopefully add to the knowledge base regarding the efficacy of embracing a problem-based learning instructional approach in physical therapy programs.

Subject Area

Rehabilitation|Therapy|Adult education|Continuing education|Health education

Recommended Citation

Wilson, Stanley Hanson, "A qualitative study of the clinical practice of graduates of a problem-based physical therapy program" (2000). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9991551.