Does Method of Instruction Impact Entry-level DPT Students' Orthopaedic Competency?


Instructional methods utilized to teach entry level orthopaedic content to DPT students are not uniform. The purpose of this review is to determine whether a particular style of instruction would prove superior regarding anticipated competency and retention of orthopaedic content .


CINAHL, Pubmed Central, and Medline databases were searched using the keywords: “Physical Therapy”; instruction; musculoskeletal; and “manual skills”. Search parameters were limited to articles published in English, January 1996 through December 2016. Studies were selected based on established inclusion and exclusion criteria. An outcome comparison table was designed by the authors. Authors critically appraised the included studies in order to collectively report the outcomes described in the literature.


69 studies were identified, five were of sufficient quality to be included in the review. 206 entry-level DPT students were assessed across the five studies included in the review. Methods of instruction included: live demonstration and practice alone; video demonstration and practice alone; video demonstration to augment ongoing practice. Outcomes were test scores on written exams, practical exams, or both. In all five studies, student scores in comparison groups did not demonstrate significant differences related to mode of instruction.

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

The reviewed literature identifies a variable combination of instructional methods to deliver orthopaedic content. Assessments of retention and competency of presented material do not indicate any significant differences when modes of delivery are compared. Based on the reviewed literature, it is not apparent that one style of teaching orthopaedic content to entry-level DPT students is superior to another. Given the varied learning styles of individuals, and the variety of teaching methods available, recognizing that more than one style of instruction provides positive learning outcomes may be very beneficial. The current review is limited by a sparse number of high-quality prospective trials. Additional research in this area is required to make definitive recommendations to physical therapy educators regarding the most efficacious instructional methods.


Ford GS, Mazzone MA, Taylor K (2005). Effect of computer assisted instruction versus traditional modes of instruction on student learning of musculoskeletal special tests. Journal of Physical Therapy Education, 19(2), 22-30.

Hawk J, Reicherter A, Gordes (2014). SECTIONS Model: strategizing technology-based instruction in physical therapist education. Journal of Physical Therapy Education, 28(1), 73-79.

Kinney P, Keskula DR, Perry JF (1997). The effect of a computer assisted instructional program on physical therapy students. Journal of Allied Health, 26(2), 57-61.

Smith AR, Jones J, Cavanaugh C, Venn J, Wilson W (2006). Effect of interactive multimedia on basic clinical psychomotor skill performance by physical therapist students. Journal of Physical Therapy Education, 20(2), 61-67.

Van Duijin AJ, Swanick K, Donald EK (2014). Student learning of cervical psychomotor skills via online video instruction versus traditional face to face instruction. Journal of Physical Therapy Education, 28(1), 94-102.

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  • Control #: 2748830
  • Type: Posters
  • Event/Year: ELC2017
  • Authors: Antoinette Spector, Carrie Truebenbach
  • Keywords:

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