Videos bridge gap between classroom and clinic

Holly Gray - 20 July 2010

Almost everyone loves watching videos. And after receiving funding from the University of Alberta's Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, Geoff Bostick and his Master's students in physical therapy will be watching more of them.

The Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine assistant professor in physical therapy has created an initiative to develop videos that engage students in real-life scenarios with patients.

"A real patient will be videotaped and the students will be able to go online, view the video and make decisions on what to do," Bostick explained. "In this situation, the students are more likely to be engaged as they can see themselves in that clinical encounter."

The assessment of a real-life patient can be a daunting task for physical therapy students, even after countless hours spent pouring over textbooks and memorizing technical knowledge.

Bostick and his colleagues Bernadette Martin, associate chair, department of physical therapy, and Dwight Harley, director, psychometric studies in medical education, are looking to bridge the gap between classroom studies and clinical assessment with the $14,742 TLEF.

The TLEF project entitled Authentic Video Case Studies to Enhance Clinical Reasoning in Physical Therapy Student will also enable instructors to develop measures of clinical reasoning specific to U of A physical therapy students.

Bostick says the use of high-quality film and a professional videographer will help immerse students in the learning experience. Students are able to individually work through the program at their own pace, so they're never too rushed or held back by slower students, among other benefits.

"The videos are flexible in the sense that they could be used in face-to-face or online courses now that all of the physical therapy courses are on eClass," said Bostick. "Our department is also testing a satellite program in Augustana so things like video case studies can be delivered online and are helpful with distance learning."

But this project is not only for the benefit of the students. The program will allow instructors to track transactions learners make while working through the case, and this information will be gathered to assess the students' clinical reasoning.

"This is the closest thing I've thought of to try and get in their head," said Bostick.

"We will analyze their decisions as a way to understand how our students reason clinically. While there is a lot of literature on clinical reasoning in health science students, it is important to get information about our students. Because our program, instructors, and student experiences are all different, our students' clinical reasoning may be different from what is written in the literature because of this."

The Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, launched in 2006, supports innovative projects at the University of Alberta that create exceptional learning experiences and environments for students. The purpose of the fund is to support those engaged in teaching at the university, allowing them to improve their teaching skills, enhance their understanding of teaching and learning processes and provide teaching environments to optimize student learning.

About the University of Alberta Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine
As the only free standing faculty of rehabilitation in Canada, the University of Alberta Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine balances its activities among learning, discovery and citizenship (including clinical practice). A research leader in musculoskeletal health, spinal cord injuries and common spinal disorders (back pain), the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine aims to improve the quality of life of citizens in our community. The three departments, Occupational Therapy (OT), Physical Therapy (PT) and Speech Pathology and Audiology (SPA) offer professional entry programs. The Faculty offers thesis-based MSc and PhD programs in Rehabilitation Science, attracting students from a variety of disciplines including OT, PT, SLP, psychology, physical education, medicine and engineering.