The Effects of Intraprofessional Collaborative Case Based Learning: A Cohort Study of Student Physical Therapist and Physical Therapist Assistant Perceptions of the Physical Therapist Role

Yvonne Marie Colgrove, Lori Maria Walton, Lisa Delores VanHoose


Background: The changing nature and complex regulation of healthcare require the efficient use of resources, including the appropriate delegation and supervision of the physical therapist assistant (PTA). Knowledge of the scope of PTA practice introduced in the academic curriculum is mandated for entry-level practice. This study assessed the effect of a collaborative case-based educational intervention within the didactic curriculums of a physical therapy (PT) and PTA program on student knowledge of PTA scope of practice.

Methods and Findings: A pre- and post-test research design was used. Students completed a validated survey exploring their perceptions of the PTA role before beginning the case study. The case study was a classroom assignment followed by instructional prompts requiring interactions between student cohorts three times over four weeks. Following case study completion, students completed the same survey. Independent and paired samples t-tests detected significant differences between and within groups (p < .05).

Conclusions: Based on the results, the case-based instructional model was efficacious in teaching both student cohorts about the role of the PTA. The impact was greater on the accuracy of the PT students, but PTA students became less uncertain in their perceptions. The effect of the clinical learning environment should be investigated to determine the impact on student perception of PTA role delineation following didactic instruction.


Role delineation; Case-based collaboration; Student perception; Physical therapy

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