Exploring physiotherapy clinician-educator beliefs about their teaching role and their preferences for their development as educators.
AuthorFrith, Christine Ann
Document TypeMasters Research thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2018 Christine Ann Frith
There is strong professional demand for physiotherapy clinical educators (CEs) to facilitate positive student learning experiences for physiotherapy students and ensure high professional standards of physiotherapy. It is well known that the quality of clinical teaching is determined by the educational rather than the clinical expertise of CEs. Within the public healthcare context, inhouse professional development (PD) programs of teaching, are the primary means of developing CEs’ teaching expertise. However, for PD to effectively motivate changes to teaching practice, it must do more than introduce teaching tips and strategies. It needs to resonate with CEs’ beliefs about their teaching practice. The aims of this research were to explore physiotherapy Clinician-Educator (CE) beliefs about their teaching role and effective teaching practice and to use this understanding to inform inhouse PD programs to develop teaching skills. Grounded in a constructivist and interpretivist approach and using mixed methods forty physiotherapy CEs at St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, (SVHM) completed the Conceptions and Learning Teaching (COLT) questionnaire. The COLT is a reliable and validated tool that was used to explore CE teaching beliefs. Subsequently, CE beliefs of teaching were further explored in two focus groups, comprised of eighteen CEs. The focus groups were allocated according to teaching experience; early career CEs with less than five years of teaching experience and experienced CEs with five or more years of teaching experience. Thematic analysis of focus group transcripts revealed CE teaching beliefs varied significantly between CEs and generally reflected the development of their identities as educators, relative to their identities as clinicians. Three levels of educator identity emerged; weak, intermediate and strong. Each level exposed differences in CE interest, motivation and engagement with learning about teaching. The translation of this research to PD programming at SVHM included the development of a multi-tiered framework for PD. This introduced a range of learning activities that accommodated for different CE learning needs and levels of identity as educator. The implications of this research when combined with the broader education literature, are that developing an improved understanding of CE beliefs about teaching within PD has the potential to improve PD program design in the preparation and implementation phases. There appear to be benefits for CEs in re-aligning PD content to better match CE learning needs, motivation levels and learning preferences. In addition, acknowledging differences in levels of identity as an educator, discussing CE concerns and supporting them to negotiate contextual barriers to implementing new teaching strategies may improve translation of learning to practice. Future research may focus on specific PD techniques to facilitate changes in identity level as an educator. This research contributes to the understanding of CE identity and teaching beliefs in the development of further teaching expertise.
Keywordsclinical teaching; teaching beliefs; teacher identity; physiotherapy; professional development
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