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Student-Centered Education

Student TutorialThe problem-based learning (PBL) entry-level Doctor of physical Therapy program places the student in a position of active responsibility for learning and mastering content. In a group  of peers, the student learns new material by exploring clinical patient case. Students work in  small groups (7-8 students) facilitated by an expert clinician. Rather than listening to a  lecture on a given topic (teacher-centered learning), students are  presented with a patient case which typically integrates previously  learned information with a great deal of new content. The group must come to consensus about what they need to know in order to manage the patient case. They do this by developing “learning issues” or topics which represent questions about  the case. On an individual basis, students then research the topics by  using textbooks, review articles, peer-reviewed research, and electronic  data bases. Later in the week, students regroup to discuss their  findings and apply them to the patient case at hand. Rather than  lecturing, the faculty member facilitates discussion and asks questions  to ascertain that students are learning the material to the appropriate breadth and depth required of an entry level physical therapist. Carefully crafted scenarios are the “anchors” around which other content is  taught. The curriculum includes extensive laboratory experiences (Patient/Client Management and Foundational Sciences) as well as special  topic seminars (Professional Topics) to support knowledge acquisition.