Usage and Perceived Value of Video Podcasts by Professional Physical Therapist Students in Learning Orthopedic Special Tests

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Background and Purpose.

Several studies have shown that the use of supplemental video resources can be an effective strategy for learning orthopedic special tests. To date, it is not clear if and how students are accessing such supplementary resources to aid in learning. The purpose of this descriptive study was to determine student usage, perceived value, and learning and delivery preferences using short video podcasts to teach orthopedic special tests.


Two hundred fifty-four students (74% female; mean age=21.8 years) in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree program at Ithaca College participated in the study. All students had completed a course that used video podcasts on orthopedic special tests to supplement course material.


Sixty video clips were produced and distributed on iTunes U that demonstrated orthopedic special tests. An online survey was sent to all students who had just completed a 15-week course in musculoskeletal examination and evaluation. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze data.


Four successive cohorts of students (2009–2012) completed the survey (response rate = 77%). Ninety-nine percent of the students accessed the video clips, with 79% using them extensively. The majority of the students watched the videos on their computer, but the number of students who used them on a mobile device doubled from 23% in 2009 to 50% in 2012. The majority of students used the videos to prepare for labs (80%) and laboratory practical exams (77%). Ninetythree percent of students reported that watching the clips improved their performance on practical exams. Students preferred iTunes clips over other forms of media, such as DVDs.


Students utilized and found value in watching short video clips. Easily accessible and portable videos were preferred over other media delivery formats. Students utilized the video podcasts to prepare for peer-learning lab sessions, as well as for reinforcement and studying for practical exams. Students felt these video clips were one of the most valuable resources for learning, studying, and reviewing the special tests while textbooks were found to be least valuable.


Our study showed that short video clips that were easily viewed and downloadable to a mobile device were perceived as highly valuable in learning orthopedic special tests. Due to the convenience and flexibility of this format, students were able to use these clips for multiple course activities and preferred them to other available resources.

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