Impact of a two week International service learning experience on doctor of physical therapy students

Michele Lambaria, Jamie Haines

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


<b><u>Introduction/Clinical Relevance</u></b>: Service-learning has been defined as an experiential learning pedagogy in which students participate in activities such as response to community needs, collaboration, meaningful service, reflection, and institutional commitment.<sup>1</sup><i> </i>Literature on the impact of experiential learning has demonstrated that students who participate in such activities are more satisfied with their educational programs<sup>2</sup>, have improved professional judgment<sup>3</sup> and critical thinking<sup>4</sup>, take responsibility for their own learning<sup>5</sup>, and have increased motivation in clinicals and classes.<sup>4,6</sup> The purpose of this study was to determine the perceived impact on classroom performance of doctor of physical therapy students after participating in a two-week international service learning experience in Roatán, Honduras. <b><u>Methods:</u></b> Individual interviews with nine students were conducted two semesters after participating in the trip. Data analysis using the constant comparative method was performed. Themes of impact were generated through consensus of investigators. <b><u>Results:</u></b> Improved communication, confidence, adaptability, and technical skills were identified as areas of improvement in classroom performance. Students felt that these improvements carried over into their subsequent clinical education experience. Students reported no change in preparation for class, test scores or study habits. <b><u>Discussion</u></b>: The data suggest that participating in international service learning may positively impact classroom behaviors desired in physical therapy programs and better prepare students for clinical education experiences. <b><u>Conclusions:</u></b> Immersion in an international service learning experience may be used as a tool in physical therapy curricula to promote characteristics that enhance learning for the classroom and clinic. ISL provides an avenue for teaching skills that are often challenging to improve in the classroom and are essential in clinical practice. <b><u>Acknowledgments</u></b>: Vessels of Mercy Clinic, Roatán, Honduras; Students who traveled to Roatán and participated in the research project; University of Michigan-Flint Doctor of Physical Therapy Program faculty and staff
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - Feb 2016
EventAmerican Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting - Anaheim, CA
Duration: Feb 1 2016Feb 28 2016


ConferenceAmerican Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting


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