Self-directed Learning in Human Anatomy: Assessing the Outcome


Self-directed learning is the keystone to lifelong learning and knowledge of human anatomy is crucial for understanding the Human Movement System. Students’ ability to direct their learning during an intensive summer course as the first step in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) curriculum is imperative. The purpose of this study is to investigate the self-directed learning outcomes associated with a summer Human Anatomy course.


This initial study will compare student scores on the Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale for Nursing Education (SDLRSNE) prior to and immediately following a summer Human Anatomy course. The SDLRSNE is reliable and valid for Doctor of Physical Therapy students. The survey was first administered electronically during orientation for 1st year DPT students. Students participated in the 8 week Human Anatomy course. Following the course, the SDLRSNE was administered again in the same format. Total Scores and subscales for Self-Control, Self-Management, and Desire for Learning were calculated and analyzed using paired t-tests.


The pre-test resulted in 43 respondents, N=41 females, N=2 males. The post-test generated 28 respondents, N=26 females, N=2 males. The Shapiro-Wilk test for normality was calculated for both the pre- and post-test results. These results included only students that responded to both the pre- and the post-test (N=28). All scores were normally distributed for the pre-test and post-test scores. The means for the total score for the pre-test was 165.39 (SD = 8.736) and post-test 169.61 (SD=10.647). These results were statistically significant t = -3.074 (p = .005) and indicate positive growth in self-directed learning in this group of students. Similar results were calculated for two out of the three subscales. Only the Self-Management subscale did not demonstrate a statistically significant change.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: The Pursuit of Excellence in Physical Therapy Education

Often times, in building courses and curriculum, important outcomes are developed that are not assessed within the course. Additionally, circumstances arise where assessments that are utilized are not appropriately aligned with course outcomes. This study is the first in a series to investigate student challenges with self-directed learning. Self-directed learning is an outcome in many courses that isn’t easily measured. This research demonstrates 1) a valid tool to measure student outcomes associated with self-directed learning, 2) appropriate alignment of course outcomes and measures, and 3) evidence that a singular course, when designed well, can enhance the self-directed learning of students. The pursuit of excellence in physical therapy education must include investiation into how a students learn as this as essential as what students learn.


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  • Control #: 2526617
  • Type: Platforms
  • Event/Year: ELC2016
  • Authors: Amy Heath, Alia Sullivan, Teressa Brown
  • Keywords:

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