Teaching and Learning in the Therapies

Welcome to the home page of the Teaching and Learning in the Therapies research group.  This webpage has been made available to share projects, and identify people working in the area.  

Professional development in the therapies is about developing life-long learning skills. This group focuses on scholarly contributions and strategies to optimise the learning experience for students in the therapies. Projects include strategies to enhance the uptake of evidence based practice from undergraduate to postgraduate, correlating use of e-learning resources with student centred outcomes and the role of learning styles in enhancing student engagement.

Dr Maureen McEvoy and Dr Steve Milanese are the lead contacts for this group and are keen to build a team of others interested in pursuing research in the area and developing teams of collaborators.

Snapshot of 2015

Future directions for 2016

Early career physiotherapist’ perceptions of evidence based practice (EBP) in the university curriculum and how it influences their daily physiotherapy work.
Dr Maureen McEvoy, Dr Lucy Lewis, Dr Steve Milanese, Dr Julie Luker.
Funding: UniSA Learning and Teaching Development Grants for 2014

Analysis completed on quantitative and qualitative data relating to Physiotherapy students experiences of EBP training across a program, perceptions of future use of EBP at graduation and actual experience of EBP after 12 months in the workplace.

Final year students significantly changed in all five domains of EBP

After three EBP courses there were significant changes, with large effect sizes (ES) (1.7-4.3) for most domains (Relevance, Terminology, Practice, Confidence, Actual Knowledge), medium ES (0.5) for Sympathy. Qualitative analysis supported the quantitative findings (Stage 1). After a year in the workforce there were declines in all domain scores, significant for Relevance and Confidence (Stage 2).  

There was a presentation of the stage 1 findings at the Australian Physiotherapy Conference October 2015. Three manuscripts are currently being prepared.

Interviews with a small sample of employers are being undertaken to gain a broader understanding of the workplace and EBP environment for new graduates.

Link to overview of the EBP teaching project (pdf  285KB). 

Link to the progress report, June 2014 (pfd 434KB)

Link to the interim progress report, January 2015 (pdf 332KB)

Link to learning and teaching grant presentation (pdf 849KB)

Simulation: Actors Simulating Patients in Physiotherapy Education.
Jane Coffee.

Sustained use of Clinical Simulation in the undergraduate and graduate entry programs.  

Investigates the use of Actor based simulation in the teaching of core physical skills to enhance safety and efficacy. 

Projects in this area have continued in 2015 including the HORIZON – Interdisciplinary project expansion. 

Through the Simulation learning environment implementation group, the physiotherapy discipline have been involved in the script development and filming of the hospital journey of one of the Horizon Virtual patients, Thomas Hurtle in December 2015. Staff are discussing ways this rich footage and audio can be integrated into teaching to enhance the student learning experience. Projects will be developed to assess the impact of this style of teaching.

Teaching manual handling to undergraduate physiotherapy students, where are we starting from?
Jane Coffee, Dr Rose Boucaut, Dr Steve Milanese.
This was a new initiative; a survey investigated first year students’ knowledge about manual handling, their risk profile and where they were in the self-reported Stage of Change prior to the delivery of any formal education on safe manual handling practice. 

First year students were found to have good retention of knowledge of safe manual handling but poor retention of skill. The results suggest 49% of were in the pre-contemplative stage of practice change. This information will inform future curriculum development and instructional design re-manual handling.

Investigating cultural competence curriculum development.
Dr Gisela van Kessel, Dr Caroline Fryer and Bernie Flynn.

The Cultural Intelligence Scale questionnaire was used to evaluate the effectiveness of modules in the curriculum addressing  cultural competence; the modules aim to help students gain knowledge, attitudes and skills required to work safely and effectively with users and providers in the health care system. 

Specifically designed modules were shown to be effective in increasing the cultural competence of second year physiotherapy students with a good effect sizes. A content analysis that compares essays by students who have and those who have not, undertaken the new competence training modules, is being completed, in order to understand students’ ability to apply their new knowledge of culture. The longitudinal effect of the introduction of the Cultural Competence training will be investigated by measuring the Cultural Intelligence of the same sample of students at the beginning of 2016. Links to overseas cultural immersion experiences of students are being made.  

To lecture or not to lecture, that is the question. 
Dr Gisela van Kessel, Dr Steve Milanese and Robyn Gill 

Data was collected on actual attendance from sign in sheets and downloaded online activity reports for three second year physiotherapy courses.

Across the courses there were weak-moderate but significant positive correlations between final grade and lecture attendance (r<0.4), tutorial/practical attendance (r<0.35) and e-resource downloads (0.23). Interestingly weak but significant negative correlations (r<-0.28) were identified for lecture presentation downloads and final grades (i.e. the more the students downloaded the lecture slides the worse the grade). 

Link to project brief To lecture or not to lecture, that is the question (pdf 296KB)

Standardised patient scenarios versus peer role play to develop physiotherapy student safety skills in readiness for clinical placement: a controlled trial.
Phillips AC, Mackintosh S, Bell A, Coffee J, Johnston KN.
Funding: UniSA Learning and Teaching Development Grants for 2015

This was a new initiative; this study evaluated the effect of a three hour practical session using a standardised patient scenario (with and without video feedback) involving a manual handling task in a second year course of the physiotherapy program. 

There were significant improvements in 110 students (92% completion) perceived preparedness for clinical placement. There was no statistically significant effect on the students OSCE scores. Students rated the interventions positively, with consistent and statistically significant improvements across all survey statements following the intervention.

Learning activity (1 day professional development workshop) aimed at facilitating clinicians’ understanding of physiotherapy psychosocial (patient perspective) assessment and management.
Mark Jones, Dr  Edwards, Mark Catley, Dr Saravana Kumar, Dr Maureen McEvoy

The aims of this project are to evaluate the effectiveness of a one day workshop to improve the confidence and skills of clinicians in assessment and management of psychosocial aspects of a patient presentation. 

Learning materials continue to be fine-tuned. Questionnaire to assess knowledge almost completed and formatted in Survey Monkey. Initial ethics application and attachments (Participant Information Form, a Consent Form, and an Interview Guide) being drafted prior to Ethics application.

Anyone wanting to contribute to research in teaching and learning in allied health is encouraged to contact Dr Maureen McEvoy or Dr Steve Milanese:

E: Maureen.McEvoy@unisa.edu.au    E: Steve.Milanese@unisa.edu.au 
P: (Dr McEvoy)  (08) 8302 2547           P: Dr Milanese (08) 8302 1053

Areas of study and research

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