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Physiotherapy. 2012 Dec;98(4):330-5. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 Jul 27.

Problem Based Learning in physiotherapy education: a practice perspective.

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University of Plymouth, Devon, UK.



Problem Based Learning (PBL) has been integrated into a range of health education curricula; however there is limited research evaluating the application of skills developed through PBL in clinical practice.


This study aimed to provide evidence of how skills gained through PBL are applied in practice by student physiotherapists, from the perspective of their placement supervisors.


A qualitative one-to-one semi-structured interview methodology was used, purposively recruiting a sample of 10 qualified physiotherapists with experience of placement supervision of students studying on a PBL physiotherapy undergraduate degree.


The supervisors felt that PBL offered positive benefits for both student education and clinical practice. There was evidence of the application of skills and attributes associated with PBL, including positive learning behaviours and a high level of motivation and self-direction. Supervisors felt that proactive students were able to apply transferable skills inherent in the PBL approach to clinical practice, including a holistic, problem-solving approach and effective team-working but that there was considerable variation between students.


There is evidence of variable application of skills associated with PBL in clinical practice in this study group. Further research would be useful to explore the factors that enable students to successfully apply the attributes developed using a PBL approach into practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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