How Technology Is Being Used to Teach Manual Orthopedic Skills to Dpt Students
Purpose/Hypothesis: Technology-assisted instruction (TAI) is an emerging area of research within Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) education. Yet, there is little understanding of how and why TAI is being used by DPT educators, particularly within courses that require psychomotor skill acquisition. The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence and manner in which DPT educators use TAI to teach manual orthopedic skills, in addition to identifying the educators’ perceived benefits and barriers to TAI implementation. Number of Subjects: 47 Materials and Methods: This was a descriptive, cross-sectional study of educators from accredited DPT programs in the United States. Online surveys were sent via email to the program directors of all accredited DPT programs listed on the APTA web directory (n=223). Program directors were asked to forward the survey to any instructor that taught manual orthopedic assessment or intervention skills. Examples were provided in the email and at the beginning of the survey regarding skills that fit within the study's definition (e.g., manual muscle testing, joint play or mobilization, orthopedic special tests). Study participants were asked about their use of TAI, perceived benefits and barriers to TAI use, and demographic information. Data analyses included frequencies and percentages. Results: The study participants (n=47) were predominately full-time DPT faculty (83%), at least 40 years-old (74%), and had earned a research doctoral degree (57%). The majority of respondents indicated that they used TAI within their courses (79%) and the most common type used was pre-recorded videos, either developed by the instructor (60%) or found online (49%). More effective use of class time was the benefit most commonly cited by respondents (79%) followed by improved student independence with information gathering (62%). Lack of time for development was the most common perceived barrier to using TAI (74%). Conclusions: TAI is commonly used to teach manual orthopedic skills to DPT students and educators perceive many benefits to using TAI within their courses. However, the most common perceived barrier to TAI use was a lack of time for development, which may limit orthopedic instructors from using TAI to the extent that they would prefer. With increasing evidence for the efficacy of using TAI within allied health courses, orthopedic instructors must consider if the potential gains in classroom efficiency are worth the initial time investment for developing TAI course materials. Future research examining the impact of TAI on DPT student outcomes and preferences may assist instructors in the decision-making process, as well as research on best practices for integrating TAI into courses. Clinical Relevance: As DPT student cohorts and curricula expand, there is an ongoing interest in how to use technology to increase instructional efficiency while balancing student outcomes, particularly within courses requiring psychomotor skill acquisition.