A Brave New World in PT Education: A Case for Variance Reduction in Instruction


What if content-area experts outside the university provided lectures while university faculty organized the active learning experiences? What if this new world of content expert instruction helped to standardize educational content across universities-creating a similar product of foundational knowledge? What if using national experts decreased the burden of faculty showing expertise in areas such as radiology or pharmacology? What if we could educate practicing clinicians in a similar way to keep up to date with evidence based practice? And what if these changes created more time for university faculty to enhance student assessment, provide patient care, or engage in scholarship and service?

The purpose of this presentation is to provide a compelling case for content-expert instruction that standardizes content across universities with an online format.

Methods and/or Description of Project

Faculty from two distinct PT programs, one a Research I, Public University and the second a Research Intensive Private, Not-for Profit University, share their use of standardized instruction using an external provider for several foundational PT courses such as pharmacology and medical imaging/radiology as compared to various typically run courses at universities. The presenters will share the impact of this instruction on students, faculty roles, and student learning outcomes in their respective institutions. The presentation includes: Financial management, integration of instruction through the curriculum, faculty roles in facilitating and assessing learning; and overall impact on program management and outcomes.


Participants will be able to apply an innovative strategy to help standardize curriculum content in a fiscally responsible manner while meeting CAPTE criteria and institutional goals.

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

This presentation relates directly to the theme entitled “Instructional Strategies for the Classroom and Clinic” as well as the conference theme “The Pursuit of Excellence in Physical Therapy Education” because it provides concrete, innovate approaches to standardizing instruction in PT curricula in professional and post-professional education.


1. Nelson RM. The Next Evolution. Phys Ther. Oct 2013;93(10):1415-1424.

2. Wojciechowski M. The Future of Physical Therapist Education. PT in Motion Magazine, Feb 2015 (http://www.apta.org/PTinMotion/2015/2/Feature/FutureofPTEducation/ accessed 3/24/2016)

3. CAPTE Criteria for Entry-level DPT Programs. http://www.capteonline.org/uploadedFiles/CAPTEorg/About_CAPTE/Resources/Accreditation_Handbook/CAPTE_PTStandardsEvidence.pdf (accessed 3/25/2016)

4. Kulig K. Residency Education in Every Town: Is It Just So Simple? Phys Ther. Jan 2014;94(1):151-161.

5. McLaughlin JE,RothMT,GlattDM,Gharkholonarehe N, Davidson CA, LaToya ME, Griffin LM, Esserman DA, Mumper RJ. The flipped classroom: a course redesign to foster learning and engagement in a health professions school. Academic Medicine, 89(2): 236-243, 2014.

6. Smith JS. Active learning strategies in the physician assistant classroom – the critical piece to a successful flipped classroom. The Journal of Physician Assistants Education. 25(2): 46-49, 2014.

Course Objectives

1. Identify and analyze the impact of specific CAPTE standards for faculty and curriculum that reflect the need for distinct expertise

2. Compare and contrast the role of faculty who provide information through lectures versus faculty who facilitate learning through interactive instruction.

3. Compare evidence in the literature for the use of this type of educational model.

4. Analyze the value obtained through use of a hybrid/flipped education model rooted in standardized foundational content-specific curriculum.

Instructional Methods

Presentation, demonstration of specific examples, participant discussion.

Tentative Outline/Schedule

I. A brave new world: Making the case for reduced variability within PT education (30 min)

II. The tale of 3 universities: Comparing models for integrating standardized instruction against a non-standardized and traditional model (40 minutes)

III. The cost: benefit analysis (10 minutes)

IV. Participant discussion (10 minutes)

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  • Control #: 2528085
  • Type: Educational Session
  • Event/Year: ELC2016
  • Authors: Dr. Steven Tepper, Dr. Mary Blackinton, Ellen Wruble Hakim
  • Keywords:

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