Affective Domain Development: Incorporating Empowerment Education Principles and Activities


The purpose of this session is to offer alternate participatory/cooperative techniques for development of the affective domain from literature outside of traditional physical therapy education to include empowerment/popular/Freirian education theory. Participants will engage in and practice these methods and leave with concrete examples to incorporate in their own environments.

Methods and/or Description of Project

Skills in the affective domain are critical to student success, yet are the most challenging to foster in a meaningful manner. Empowerment education literature promotes reflection, active participation and cooperation in a community where teachers and learners are co-learners.Teachers serve as facilitators instead of traditional instructors. Since teaching and learning in the affective domain is difficult due to the subjective nature of the content, techniques that involve active introspection and discovery on the part of the learner may be more effective. These active learning techniques may be applied to physical therapy education. Clinicians and students with varying skill levels can benefit from this type of instruction aimed at developing the affective domain through building perspectives outside of oneself.
During the first year of our entry level DPT curriculum, students participate in an Integrated Clinical Education experience (ICE). Students spend a half day in the clinic every other week. On alternate weeks, they meet in groups of six to discuss their clinical experiences within the framework of the patient/client management model. While we observed discussion and reflection along with collaborative learning in the ICE small group sessions, the focus was more on cognitive learning. Student feedback suggested adding activities that foster active participation. In the clinic students struggle with appreciating others’ perspectives, navigating perceived conflict, and initiating conversations about difficult topics such as clinical/academic dissonance. New teaching methods were needed to intentionally address affective domain learning. We incorporated empowerment education pedagogy and activities to address these issues.


Two activities utilizing empowerment education theory and techniques were incorporated in the ICE small group sessions over the past two years. One activity targeted student active reflection on a patient experience that fostered an expanded understanding of the patient’s perspective. The other activity required students to practice initiating a difficult conversation that opened the opportunity for ongoing dialogue. Students fully engaged in both activities. Anonymous student feedback indicated that most students liked these activities and gained a greater ability to appreciate their patients’ perspectives and approach challenging conversations with their clinical instructors. These activities allowed blocked practice of these affective domain skills with group feedback and debriefing.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Through the Looking Glass: Transforming Physical Therapy Education

Performance in the affective domain has been cited as critical to the success of any clinician. Often physical therapy education does not emphasize or afford opportunities to practice skills in the affective domain with the same frequency, rigor, and theoretical underpinnings as skills in the cognitive and psychomotor domains. Disciplines such as counseling and social sciences focus on communication and relationship development as primary tools in evaluation and intervention. Empowerment/popular education theory may enhance affective domain development. One example of the application of this theory is flattening the hierarchy between people with different levels of power (teacher and student; clinician and patient). Expanding the depth and breadth of students' understanding enables them to appreciate the perspective of the patient, the importance of communication, and the trust/rapport necessary to make any patient/clinician relationship successful. Humanities literature notes that the connection among people is the context in which meaningful change happens. Drawing from the humanities to explicitly target development of the affective domain in the curriculum is both feasible and useful. Intentional practice using empowerment education principles prepares students for application in clinical practice. Strong student presentation in the affective domain should ultimately enhance student performance and quality patient care.


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Course Objectives

1) Examine the key challenges and common approaches in affective domain development of students and clinicians.
2) Describe concepts of participatory/cooperative learning from empowerment/popular education literature to enhance learning in the affective domain.
3) Integrate group participatory/cooperative learning techniques from empowerment education into existing methods to facilitate learning in the affective domain.
4) Design affective domain learning experiences for your environment that incorporate principles and activities of empowerment education.

Instructional Methods

Lecture, small group activities followed by debriefings, brainstorming for application in participants' environments.

Tentative Outline/Schedule

0-5: Introduction of topic and speakers and initial brainstorm (Tomlinson/Kocol)
5-15: Review literature to examine key challenges and common approaches to develop the affective domain.(Readinger/Tomlinson)
15-25: Introduce and connect empowerment/popular education concepts to affective domain learning needs in physical therapy. (Sawyer)
25-35: Practice (small group) participatory/cooperative learning technique utilized in the first year of a DPT programfor patient communication (Kocol/Tomlinson)
35-45: Debriefing of lessons learned from small group activity (Kocol/Tomlinson)
45-55: Practice (large group) participatory/cooperative learning technique utilized in the first year of a DPT program forCI/supervisor communication (Readinger/Kocol)
55-65: Debriefing of lessons learned from large group activity (Kocol/Readinger)
65-75: Tying together theory and activities (Sawyer)
75-85: Small group brainstorming for application in participants' environments (all speakers)
85-90: Questions/answers (all speakers)

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  • Control #: 2739822
  • Type: Educational Session
  • Event/Year: ELC2017
  • Authors: Karen Sawyer, Janet Readinger, Dr. Susan Tomlinson, Christina Kocol
  • Keywords:

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