Seniors in Action: a service learning fall prevention program and the effects of peer interaction on student experience

Purpose/Hypothesis : Service learning (SL) has been well defined in literature and many benefits of SL have been described. Several educational institutions have implemented the use of SL into curriculums, including PT programs. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the effects of student to student peer interactions during SL activities on the overall learning experience.Number of Subjects : A total of 56 PT students participated from 1st and 2nd year and were randomly paired (each pair had students from the different cohorts).Materials/Methods : Through discussion with the administrators and participants from a Senior Center a need for fall prevention classes was identified. PT students were randomly assigned to one of two SL activities. SL 1 was a fall prevention program called Seniors in Action, in which each pair of students had to assess fall risk and implement exercise programs for seniors. Activity 2 was an in-class review of case studies based on the assessment derived from SL 1, and completion of a plan of care and documentation but without implementing exercise program. All students spent 5 hours involved in one of the two activities and were supervised by a licensed PT. Outcomes were assessed by the student responses to pre- and post- surveys using a Likert-like scale and self-reflection comments. Questions on pre- and post- surveys evaluated the anxiety level on working with seniors, confidence level in ability to communicate, screen for risk for falls, interpret results, as well as the effect of peer interaction on facilitating SL. Data was analyzed with paired t-tests.Results : Pre-SL students in Year 2 had significant lower anxiety and higher confidence compared to Year 1 students (p=0.02 and p<0.01 respectively). However students from both years increased their confidence level in PT skills both after the SL 1 and SL 2 (p<0.001 and p=0.01). Anxiety levels decreased in Year 1 students (p=0.03) but did not changed for students in year 2 (p=0.1) post-SL. Students in year 1 reported that peer interaction during SL facilitated their learning more than year 2 student (p= 0.02). Both years appreciated the peer interaction similarly during the case reviews (p=0.4).Conclusions : The service learning activities were effective in meeting a community need, decreasing student anxiety in regard to interacting with geriatric population, improving confidence of professional skills and positive learning experience from peer interaction. Overall reflection comments expressed student satisfaction and affirmed benefits of learning from peers during SL.Clinical Relevance : Service learning in combination with student to student peer interaction is an effective tool to be utilized by doctorate level physical therapy programs. As our population ages it becomes increasingly important that clinicians are confident and competent working with a geriatric population. SL combined with peer pairing provides excellent opportunity for active learning while employing practical application which in turn strengthens a PT program curriculum.

BACK to Abstract Results

  • Control #: 2021139
  • Type: Poster
  • Event/Year: CSM2015
  • Authors: Michelle White, Debra R. Aaron, Mike Richardson, Jennifer J. Severance, Nicoleta Bugnariu
  • Keywords: Service learning| Peer interaction |Fall prevention

BACK to Abstract Results