PTA Faculty as Scholars and Leaders: Practical Approaches to Infusing Applied Scholarship into your Program and Academic Life


Many PTA faculty are committed to engage, develop, and contribute to quality teaching and learning, yet faculty resources and institutional workloads can present major barriers for prioritizing, designing, and championing their own scholarship and contributions to the discipline and to teaching.

This one and a half-hour presentation guides PTA academic and clinical faculty in processes to transform their current teaching practices and outcomes into action research, applied scholarship and professional development. Through discussion and case studies, attendees will make connections to their own teaching and learning innovations in the classroom or the clinic, and sustainably plan to contribute to scholarship and professional development within their academic home and to professional groups

Methods and/or Description of Project

Presenters begin by introducing a framework of applied scholarship for teaching and learning as described by Ernest Boyer (Boyer, 1990). Participants will engage with each other in facilitated small groups to provide context and schema for what “applied scholarship” means for PTA educators and share outcomes of this discussion with the larger group.

Case studies introduce methods for experimenting and generating applied research projects as a component of current teaching and learning responsibilities. Presenters integrate reflective learning frameworks, such as reflection-on-action and reflection-for action (Driscoll and Plack, 2011) into two examples of their own PTA classroom practices, and resultant impacts on student learning. Presenters will discuss how they were able to disseminate this work to multiple audiences (local and national).

Participants work in small groups to either, 1) draft possible research questions aimed to inform their current teaching and learning practice, or 2) draft an outline summarizing change in practice that resulted in improved student learning outcomes or student success (e.g., persistence, accountability, professional behaviors, etc). Groups are mixed, so that participants will be able to hear and contribute to discussions with faculty who are developing an idea for applied research with those who have effectively implemented a classroom or program improvement practice that may benefit from further study or refinement. Facilitators provide a written framework (handout) to guide draft development. Drafts prompt participants to brainstorm possible audiences for project outcome dissemination.

Participants post (voluntarily), and peruse the ideas for future investigation or outcomes of specific improvement practices. Small and large group discussions focus on dialog and inquiry versus generating possible solutions for others to consider in their drafts.

The session concludes with affirming possibilities for PTA academic and clinical faculty to engage in applied scholarship in meaningful and sustainable ways. Facilitators connect disseminating applied scholarship as a means for faculty to contribute to the faculty, academic home, and other communities of practice.


Upon completion of the presentation, participants will:
1) Generate a research question for one or more classroom or program practice for further study.
2) Draft a plan to implement, share, and present the outcomes of one's action research to the program or institution.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Shaping the Future of Physical Therapy Education

PTA educators work in an environment where there is heavy emphasis and value of faculty as teachers. Unlike research universities and comprehensive colleges and universities, academic faculty in two-year colleges do not typically have routine workloads that reflect time and space for research activity. Clinical faculty experience the same workload barriers for active scholarship. However, as faculty, there is a shared social responsibility to contribute to discipline knowledge, including the discipline of education.

PTA educators, in their commitment to quality teaching and learning, routinely engage in improvement practices for the classroom and the clinic. Within academic institutions, PTA faculty represents a small, and largely contingent group, presenting an added challenge with generating and sustaining a scholarly agenda. By increasing the value of action research, and how it can contribute to various communities of practice and discipline knowledge, PTA educators can make measurable and visible impacts toward furthering scholarship for the profession. Most importantly, PTA educators can champion their applied scholarship as evidence of expertise as teachers and meaningfully support physical therapy as a research-oriented profession (Janssen, Hale, Mirfin-Veitch, & Harland, 2013).


Boyer, E. L. (1990). The Faculty: A Mosaic of Talent. Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Driscoll, M., Plack, M.M. (2011). Reflection and Action Learning: Keys to Self-Awareness, Problem-Solving, and Continuous Improvement in Practice. Teaching and Learning in Physical Therapy: From Classroom to Clinic. Thorofare, NJ: SLACK.

Janssen, J., Hale, L., Mirfin-Veitch, B., & Harland, T. (2013). Building the Research Capacity of Clinical Physical Therapists Using a Participatory Action Research Approach. Physical Therapy, 93(7), 923–934.

Course Objectives

1) Introduce constructs for applied scholarship and critical reflection in PTA education.
2) Discuss cases where teaching and learning practices in the PTA classroom provide evidence of effectiveness at course, program, and institutional levels.
3) Engage with colleagues to create ideas for further study through action research in the academic or clinical settings.

Instructional Methods

Video enhanced case studies
Small group discussions
Small group presentation

Tentative Outline/Schedule

Tentative Outline/Schedule
Welcome, Introduction, Course Objectives (10 min)
Discussion 1 – “What is applied scholarship?” (5 min)
Sharing and synthesis of discussion outcomes (5 min)
Discussion 2 – Choose 1 (15 min)
“What strategies or ideas have you been reflecting on that might improve your teaching and student learning?”
“What steps or changes did you make in your current instructional approaches that were influenced or informed through reflection?”
Sharing and synthesis of discussion outcomes (5 min)
Case Study Presentations (15 min)
Integrates and connects to reflection-on-action and reflection-for-action frameworks and summarizes how work was disseminated:
-iPad/video enhanced instruction and examination
-screencasts to provide student feedback
Discussion 3 – What are your next steps toward moving your action research ideas or outcomes forward? (15 min)
Presentations and inquiry-based dialog (15 min)
Concluding thoughts, close discussion (5 min)

BACK to Abstract Results

  • Control #: 2276363
  • Type: Educational Session
  • Event/Year: ELC2015
  • Authors: Ms. Christina Howard, Beth Thorpe
  • Keywords:

BACK to Abstract Results