Self-Assessment by Physical Therapy Students on Laboratory Practical Examinations


The APTA Guide for Professional Conduct states that self-assessment is a lifelong responsibility for maintaining professional competence. The purpose of this study was to determine if students are able to do a better job self-assessing their performance on a practical exam if they are able to gain experience with this task.


56 first year physical therapy students completed two different practical examinations; a midterm and final. The students then had 24 hours to complete a self-assessment and were asked to predict the score they would receive on the examination, using a detailed rubric provided by the instructor. The instructor for the class graded the examination, blinded to the student results, using the same rubric. The midterm and final exams were scored out of 88 and 100 points, respectively. However, prior to statistical analysis, the midterm was scaled to a score so that it was measured on a 100 point scale. A repeated measures ANOVA model was used.


On average, the students expected that they would receive a score of 91.6 (95% CI: 90.5, 92.8) on the midterm and 93.7 (95%CI 92.7, 94.7) on the final. The average instructor’s grades for the midterm and final were 95.6 (95% CI: 94.6, 96.6) and 97.0 (95% CI: 96.2, 97.9). The final grade was significantly higher than the midterm for both the student (P=0.008) and the instructor (P=0.035). Additionally, the student’s evaluation was significantly lower than the grade given by the instructor (P<0.001). However, the difference between the instructor’s score and the student’s score did not change from the midterm to the final (Diff=-0.7, 95% CI: -2.6, 1.3; P=0.5136).
Additionally, the instructor’s scores had a standard deviation of 3.7 on the midterm and 3.1 on the final exam. The students’ evaluations had a standard deviation of 4.1 on the midterm and 3.7 on the final exam. Although the standard deviation of the student evaluations decreased from the midterm to the final, this pattern mirrors the decrease in the standard deviation observed by the instructor’s scores.

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

This study presents limited evidence to suggest that the students’ self-evaluation improves with practice; no increases in either the accuracy or precision were observed in relation to the score given by the instructor.

Accurate self-assessments can identify learner needs prior to performing skills in a clinical setting. It is also important for students to improve their self-assessment skills in the didactic setting so that this skill can be carried over into the clinical setting.


Anderson D, Irwin K (2013) Self-assessment of professionalism in physical therapy education. Work 44(3):275-81. Seif G, Brown D, Annan-Coultas (2013) Video-recorded simulated patient interactions: can they help develop clinical and communication skills in today’s learning environment. J Allied Health 42(2):e37-e44. Isenberg G, Roy V, Veloski J, Berg K, Yeo C (2015) Evaluation of the validity of medical students’ self-assessments of proficiency in clinical simulations. J Surg Res. 193(2):554-9. Kajander-Unkuri S, Meretoja R, Katajisto J, Saarikosk M, Salminen L, Suhonen R, Leino-Kilpi H. (2014) Self-assessed level of competence of graduating nursing students and factors related to it. Nurse Education Today 34:795-801. Hulsman R, Vloodt J (2015) Self-evaluation and peer-feedback of medical students’communication skills using a web-based video annotation system, exploring content and specificity (2015) Patient Education and Counseling 98: 356-363.

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  • Control #: 2289722
  • Type: Posters
  • Event/Year: ELC2015
  • Authors: Dr. Dixie Bowman, Adam Sima
  • Keywords:

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