Can Students Still Learn during the COVID-19 Crisis? Evaluating Student Perceptions and Learning Outcomes of on-Line Learning Instruction.


The participants of this study are 125 Doctor of Physical Therapy students that are enrolled in the Georgia State University Department of Therapy program. A survey instrument has been developed to gage student perceptions of their learning during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic crisis in the Spring 2020 academic semester. During this unprecedented time, all on campus activities have been suspended and all course content has moved to an on-line format only for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. In addition, Summer courses will also be only on-line at this time as well. Because of this, this studyÕs intent is to get anonymous feedback from all the students involved in the program about the on-line content delivery, evaluate which teaching methods being used are valuable and helpful with learning, identify and evaluate which teaching methods being used that are not perceived to be valuable to learning. In addition, learning outcomes will be compared before and after campus closure, to gage the impact the on-line learning instruction has had on the studentÕs performance. The Department of Physical TherapyÕs DPT program requires students to complete a total of 144 graduate credit hours, and only a minority of content is delivered online, because of the Òhands-onÓ nature of learning. Therefore, a shift to online delivery in a short period of time, requires the student to adapt to this new environment rapidly and still meet their learning objectives. Therefore, now is the time to assess students perception and how they have adapted to this new learning environment. Crawford et. al. (2020) have summarized this time best, ÒNever has there been a time for a coordinated, collaborative, and collective global response to the best practice principles for online instruction.Ó During this unprecedented time, colleges and universities across the globe have been closed and instructions has swiftly moved to on-line delivery only for student learners, to address the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. As such, this current study is aimed to evaluate the student perceptions of this shift from the majority of in- person content delivery to solely on-line instruction. Given that physical therapy is a very Òhands-onÓ profession, that involves hours of hands-on lab instructions, and feedback from the students about this on-line learning focus is imperative, so that the faculty and Department can best adjust their content delivery to meet the needs of these learners. In addition, to gage the effectiveness of the on-line learning instruction, learning outcomes will be compared ÒpreÓ (before campus closure) to ÒpostÓ (on-line learning instruction only).


A 25 item Qualtrics on-line survey, anonymous instrument has been developed and disseminated to all students in the program. After the completion of the Spring semester, student learning outcomes will be compared before and after the campus closure (the date of the campus closure announcement was Thursday March 12th, 2020).


117 out of 125 students completed the anonymous survey, for a 93.6% survey response rate. The students on average fine that on-line instruction is saving them time and money and allows for greater flexibility in learning. In general, the students prefer asynchronous delivery content over synchronous content. Although they report that the online delivery is organized and they feel supported by the faculty during this time, they still feel that they learn more with in-class teaching than online instruction. A comparison of grades before and after the COVID-19 campus closure will be completed after the end of the Spring semester, per the IRB regulations, which is after the submittal date for the ELC proposal.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:

Given the current crisis and the swift change it has brought to all levels of education, including graduate allied health care instruction, it is imperative that we are able to identify what helps students be resilient and successful in on-line learning PT education. The results of this study will help to guide future on-line learning instruction. In addition, if the results of this study find that the on-line learning instruction results in comparable or even improved learning outcomes, this could provide a valuable time to re-think the delivery of how we instruct students moving forward.

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  • Control #: 26850
  • Type: Platform Presentation - Research Type
  • Event/Year: ELC2020
  • Authors: Anne Lorio
  • Keywords:

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