Comprehensive assessment for clinical readiness, Part I: A model for using CPI from start to finish in DPT education.


A challenge to DPT education is that a large portion of the curriculum is often taught didactically, whereas student outcomes are ultimately assessed in the clinical setting. The purpose of this educational session will be to describe an innovative assessment of DPT students’ assimilation of classroom-acquired knowledge into clinically-based skills, using the Clinical Performance Instrument (CPI) as a model during both didactic and clinical education within a DPT curriculum. We will describe the use of the CPI throughout DPT education to guide assessment of student readiness to progress in the curriculum including readiness for clinical practice. [This session will be the first of a proposed 2-part series.]

Methods and/or Description of Project

The CPI was selected as a framework for assessing students’ skills via comprehensive examinations that are embedded at 4 points throughout our curriculum. CPI behavioral indicators and performance levels commensurate with student instruction were selected for each comprehensive exam, to assess (1) student assimilation of progressively more complex content knowledge and (2) student demonstration of critical problem-solving skills that correspond to indicators of clinical readiness at distinct points throughout the curriculum. We propose that this examination process additionally provides a mechanism for critical internal assessment of the correspondence between the didactic curriculum and clinical expectations of students at all levels of DPT education.


Preliminary results demonstrate that this model bridges didactic and clinical education allowing (a) clear identification of students in need of remedial work related to professional behaviors and clinical readiness, and (b) internal assessment of progression of program expectations related to student readiness for clinical practice.

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

The use of the CPI at strategic points throughout the didactic curriculum allows us to track and correlate student performance on each comprehensive practical exam with performance in the subsequent clinical education course(s). An added benefit of this model is that students are immersed in the language of the CPI indicators of successful clinical practice before they reach their final clinical year of training. This exposure additionally builds in a mechanism to foster student self-assessment and self-reflection for clinical practice.


American Physical Therapy Association (2006), Physical Therapist Clinical Performance Instrument for Students

Gruppen L, Mangrulkar, R, Kolars, J. The promise of competency-based education in the health professions for improving global health. Human Resources for Health 2012; 10:43

Hakim E, Moffat M, Becker E. et al. Application of Educational Theory and Evidence in Support of Integrated Model and Clinical Education. Journal of Physical Therapy Education. 2014; 28 (supplement 1): 13 – 21

Seif G, Brown D, Annan-Coultas, D. Fostering Clinical-Reasoning Skills in Physical Therapist Students through an Interactive Learning Module Designed in the Moodle Learning management System. Journal of Physical Therapy Education. 2013; 27:3

Zendejas B, Brydges R, Wang A, Cook D. Patient outcomes in simulation-based medical education: a systematic review. J Gen Intern Med. 2013; 28: 1078-1089

Course Objectives

At the completion of this session, participants will be able to:
1. Describe evidence for the critical educational gap between classroom-based learning and clinical application in medical fields.

2. Understand the proposed utility of the CPI as a tool to track development of professional behaviors and clinical readiness throughout all levels of DPT education.

3. Summarize the proposed model of embedded assessment of student readiness for clinical practice.

Instructional Methods

Oral presentation including evidence, framework presentation, and overview of all elements of the model; followed by a brief Q&A session that is intended to introduce the content of the follow-up session (proposed as part II). [projector, and audience microphones needed]

Tentative Outline/Schedule

0-15 minutes: Review literature to describe gap between didactic learning and clinical application, with a focus on development of professional behaviors.

16-45 minutes: Describe an application of the CPI as a framework for progression and evaluation of student performance on a comprehensive examination.

46-75 minutes: Review of model and implementation of all related components, including professional development units and student self-assessment.

75-90 minutes: Q&A and introduction of outcomes to be reviewed in Part II (second educational session proposal)

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  • Control #: 2290641
  • Type: Educational Session
  • Event/Year: ELC2015
  • Authors: Prof. Ann Dietrich, Carrie Truebenbach, Carlynn Alt, Dr. Victoria Moerchen
  • Keywords:

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