The Physiotherapy eSkills Training Online resource improves performance of practical skills: a controlled trial
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BMC Medical Education 2012, 12:119 doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-119Published: 26 November 2012
E-learning is a common and popular mode of educational delivery, but little is known about its effectiveness in teaching practical skills. The aim of this study was to determine whether the Physiotherapy eSkills Training Online resource in addition to usual teaching improved the performance of practical skills in physiotherapy students.
This study was a non-randomised controlled trial. The participants were graduate entry physiotherapy students enrolled in consecutive semesters of a neurological physiotherapy unit of study. The experimental group received the Physiotherapy eSkills Training Online resource as well as usual teaching. The Physiotherapy eSkills Training Online resource is an online resource incorporating (i) video-clips of patient-therapist simulations; (ii) supportive text describing the aim, rationale, equipment, key points, common errors and methods of progression; and (iii) a downloadable PDF document incorporating the online text information and a still image of the video-clip for each practical skill. The control group received usual teaching only. The primary outcomes were the overall performance of practical skills as well as their individual components, measured using a practical examination.
The implementation of the Physiotherapy eSkills Training Online resource resulted in an increase of 1.6 out of 25 (95% CI −0.1 to 3.3) in the experimental group compared with the control group. In addition, the experimental group scored 0.5 points out of 4 (95% CI 0 to 1.1) higher than the control group for ‘effectiveness of the practical skill’ and 0.6 points out of 4 (95% CI 0.1 to 1.1) higher for ‘rationale for the practical skill’.
There was improvement in performance of practical skills in students who had access to the Physiotherapy eSkills Training Online resource in addition to usual teaching. Students considered the resource to be very useful for learning.