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Physiotherapy lecturers’ perceptions of online curriculum delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional survey

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journal contribution
posted on 19.07.2022, 05:40 authored by Paul Chesterton, Mark Richardson, Craig Tears

To establish UK Physiotherapy lecturers’ perceptions of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A cross-sectional mixed methods electronic survey of UK higher education lecturers, actively teaching pre-registration undergraduate or postgraduate physiotherapy degrees, was conducted between October 2020 and February 2021. Data was converted into proportions with a 95% confidence interval. Likert scale questions were treated as numeric variables with the mean and standard deviation calculated for combined responses. The thematic analysis reported patterns of data extracted from open-ended questions.

96 respondents completed the survey, reporting some positive attributes attached to online learning. 81% (n = 78, 95% CI 72–88) agreed that students developed their digital skills and were able to learn conveniently at their own pace (n = 75, 78%, 95% CI 69–85). However, 62.5% (n = 60, 95% CI 23–72) of respondents felt that students were overall disadvantaged with online learning, with 72% (n = 69, 95% CI 62–80) reporting that online learning was not comparable to face-to-face to teaching. The reasons for perceived student disadvantage were categorised into three themes; 1) a lack of ability in sessions to practice handling techniques, 2) the inability to gauge student understanding and check practical skill competence and 3) the lack of student self-directed practice time. UK physiotherapy lecturers did indicate they would continue to incorporate online learning in the future (n = 84, 87.5%, 95% CI 79–93). Such responses were based on two key themes; an improved work-life balance and the perception that online learning was no more challenging than traditional on-campus delivery.

UK physiotherapy lecturers reported that students were disadvantaged with online learning delivery compared to face-to-face teaching. Lecturers indicated a willingness to continue with aspects of online learning across the curriculum, despite suggesting it had a negative impact on students subject understanding.

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