Reading Requirements and Rates for Doctor of Physical Therapy Students
Purpose/Hypothesis: The purpose of our study was to determine how Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students' reading rates affected their ability to complete assigned readings. Previous studies reported that medical students at one institution were assigned 29,239 pages of reading and needed 41 hours/week (approximately 6 hours/day) to complete all assigned reading (Klatt & Klatt). In a study by Taylor, second year medical students reported reading less than 25% of the assigned reading. The size of the book, ease of transport, and how closely the course followed along with the textbook were all factors that influenced the percentage of reading completed for a course. Despite findings that too much reading is assigned, a flipped classroom model is being implemented in many graduate courses. This course delivery often requires reading prior to the class meeting. Persky and Hogg conducted a study on pharmacy students and found that students spent an average of 3.2 hours studying in preparation for team based learning courses. No studies were found regarding DPT students and reading expectations and rates. Number of Subjects: 60 of the 69 DPT 1st and 2nd year students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga participated in the study (87%). The majority of the respondents were female (70%) and the ages ranged from 21-36 y.o. Materials and Methods: The authors calculated the number of pages of required reading in the entire didactic portion of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga DPT program for the academic year of 2018-19. A survey instrument was then developed based on the Klatt and Klatt (2011) article that surveyed medical students and their reading habits. Permission was granted by those authors. Results: Our DPT program required 10,892 pages of assigned reading in academic year 2018-19. The DPT students reported on average that only 24% of the required reading was completed. The mean pages read per hour was 16.35 with a median of 12 pages, mode of 10 pages, and range of 4-44 pages. The mean number of hours students reported they could read per day was 1.14 with the median and mode 1 hour and range 0-5 hours. Lack of time was the primary reason the DPT students reported they do not complete the required reading (95%). Additional reasons included other materials are more helpful than textbooks (87%), no perceived benefit (50%), reading is too difficult (30%), and other (5%). Utilizing Chi-Square, there was no significant difference between reasons not to complete the reading assignments and demographics (age, pre-PT major, gender, or year in program). Discussion/Conclusions: Mathematically, there are enough hours in the school year for our DPT students to complete all required reading. However, the students reported they only complete a fourth of the reading assignments. Our findings included a substantial time demand required to complete assigned readings. Other resources were considered more valuable to the students when compared to reading textbooks. Our DPT students are still successful in their courses (99% retention rate) and with the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE). Our results are similar to studies conducted with medical students; yet, the Klatt study revealed medical students were required to read more than double the number of assigned pages in comparison to our DPT program. Clinical Relevance: There is little literature on reading habits of students enrolled in healthcare programs and nothing was found in physical therapy. Reading textbooks is not considered as valuable to students as other resources. With the rising cost of textbooks, PT program faculty (DPT and PTA) should evaluate their textbook reading requirements and determine best practice for their programs.