Assessing Simulation-Based Learning across the Curriculum: A Call to Action
Purpose: Simulation-based learning experiences (SBLEs) have emerged as an effective instructional method for building psychomotor, affective and clinical reasoning skills in student physical therapists (PT) and student physical therapist assistants (PTA). While the majority of published literature supports use of SBLEs within the highly dynamic acute care setting, SBLEs may effectively be implemented to advance clinical reasoning skills across the broader curriculum. Among the many benefits, SBLEs provide the safety net for learners to grow in the face of errors. Simulations support a variety of learning preferences and encourage reflective practice. When carefully constructed, simulations allow students to actively apply prior knowledge and utilize pattern recognition when problem-solving. The literature offers little guidance on the appropriate timing, placement, and frequency of SBLEs within a curriculum. However, pedagogical effectiveness has been demonstrated in learner outcomes when intentional scaffolding of content occurs. This presentation will provide a schematic framework for using simulations as a cost-effective mechanism for advancing the knowledge, skills, and behaviors required for greater independence, proficiency, and professionalism during clinical practice. There is a demonstrable need for more robust investigation to better quantify and qualify student outcomes following SBLEs across patient populations and practice settings. Once such data is available, educators can engage in informed dialogue of the appropriateness of utilizing SBLEs in lieu of a portion of clinical education hours. By envisioning the larger possibilities inherent in SBLEs, potential solutions to current and future academic and clinical education obstacles might emerge. Toward this end, a comprehensive and cohesive call to action of physical therapy educators is being issued to enable greater understanding of the parameters essential for SBLEs to promote top of license practice. Methods and/or Description of Project: This presentation will build upon the basic assumption that participants recognize the potential and realized benefits of simulation when compared to other commonly-utilized instructional tools. At a minimum, learning outcomes and simulation value must support associated costs and required resources. Yet, without effective tools to measure short and long-term outcomes, these discussions remain anecdotal at best. Being ever cognizant of the investment required to support robust and effective simulations, participants will be exposed to a wide range of high-fidelity simulations and tools used throughout programs with varying curricular structures and resources. The panel will also elaborate on techniques for simulations to be threaded throughout the curriculum to advance student professional and clinical skills across content areas and practice settings. Results/Outcomes: Existing assessment tools for SBLEs will be examined, highlighting benefits as well as potential gaps. Methods to measure sustained performance change in PT and PTA student learners will also be postulated to reveal the downstream effectiveness of SBLEs related to both didactic and clinical education. Similar to other interventions, simulations must be administered, dosed, and modified at a frequency sufficient to induce sustainable positive change. The panel will discuss known and/or desired simulation outcomes during the didactic, clinical, and post-graduate phases to reveal how profession-specific and interprofessional simulation experiences might best be administered. Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Despite current use of SBLEs in entry-level physical therapy curricula, little research exists to substantiate the resources necessary for their inclusion. It therefore, remains unknown when and how SBLEs can most effectively promote, and perhaps even elevate, student performance outcomes over those obtained through more traditional learning experiences. Until such information exists, the profession will be unable to move forward with incorporating SBLEs into clinical education experience hours as is already occurring in other healthcare disciplines. This session will also enable participants to more closely examine the means by which SBLEs are systematically integrated, measured, and assessed across the curriculum. Networking opportunities with other educators interested in SBLEs research will be created with the hope that larger data sets become available for comprehensive analysis.