The Use of Reflective Summary Writing as a Method of Obtaining Student Feedback About Entering Physical Therapy Practice

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Abstract

The purposes of this qualitative study were to obtain feedback from students as to how prepared they were prior to graduation from a problem-based program to enter physical therapy practice and to promote reflective thinking. Forty-eight students, during the final academic semester of a 2 year post-baccalaureate physical therapy program with a problem-based curriculum, completed a reflective summary (a short essay) on their perceptions of entering physical therapy practice. The reflective summary assignments were transcribed into the Ethnograph computer software program, and specific phenomena related to the students' feed-back were identified, coded, and grouped into themes. The following themes were identified: 1) general preparation to enter clinical practice, 2) skills in problem solving, self-directed learning, small-group learning, and critical appraisal of the literature, 3) hands-on skills, 4) ability to work in a variety of groups, and 5) the link between the academic and clinical components of the program. Reflective summary writing is a useful educational strategy to obtain students' feedback on how prepared they are to enter clinical practice and to promote reflective thinking skills. It also assists in identifying areas of knowledge and skills that students feel are necessary to enter practice and may be helpful in designing curricula in problem-based education programs.

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