PTA Students' Critical Thinking Skills as a Correlation of Clinical Performance in an Entry-Level PTA Education Program
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to 1) examine PTA students' critical thinking skills using the Health Sciences Reasoning Test after one year of curriculum and 2) examine relationships between PTA students' critical thinking skills and clinical performance as indicated on the APTA Clinical Performance Instrument (CPI).Methods/Description: Twenty second-year full time PTA students from an accredited associate degree program in the Midwest consented to participate in this study. A web-based format of the HSRT was administered to PTA students. The APTA PTA CPI was used as a standardized, valid instrument that assesses student performance during clinical education experiences. Data analyses were assessed to determine if there was a correlation of PTA students’ critical thinking skills on the HSRT with clinical performance on the CPI.Results/Outcomes: There was a positive change in CPI scores from midterm to final for all 14 performance criteria. Although there was a positive change in CPI mean scores when compared at midterm and final, two-tailed correlation coefficients were not statistically significant for the overall scores of the HSRT and clinical performance on the APTA PTA CPI at either midterm or final. The mean percentile score of the PTA student test takers is 49%, which is on average with the national norm for critical thinking skills.Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Our Leadership Landscape: Perspectives from the Ground Level to 30,000 Feet: Development of critical thinking skills are an important goal of physical therapist assistant education programs. Inductive and deductive reasoning skills and reflection appear to be equally as important. Strategies such as reflective practice, case studies and problem based learning builds resilience in academic and clinical environments to enable students to recognize and assimilate attitudes and behaviors essential to quality patient care and complex clinical situations. Development of self-reflection and metacognition skills should be integrated in didactic and clinical education components of a PTA program. Academic faculty and clinical instructors can promote students’ thought processes to gain a better understanding of their clinical-decision making. Further insight is needed into how reflective practice, case studies and problem based learning in academia and clinical education may help expand understanding of critical thinking skills for continuous improvement of patient management.References: 1. American Physical Therapy Association. A Normative Model of Physical Therapist Assistant Education: Version 2007. Alexandria, VA: American Physical Therapy Association; 2007 2. 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