Examining Relationships Between Physical and Occupational Therapy StudentsÕ Belongingness and Perceived Competence in the Clinic using the Ascent to Competence Scale

Purpose/Hypothesis : Clinical education experiences serve an essential role in physical therapist (PT) and occupational therapist (OT) student development. The Ascent to Competence Scale (ACS) measures valuable attributes of the clinical education experience. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between PT and OT studentsÕ belongingness and perceived competence in the clinic using the ACS.Number of Subjects : Ninety-one subjects participated in this study. Participants were PT and OT students from 7 programs in the Midwest who were completing clinical education internship experiences 6 weeks or greater in length.Materials/Methods : A survey consisting of 35 ACS questions measuring studentsÕ feelings of being welcomed, belongingness, and perceived competence in the clinic was administered to PT and OT students during the fifth week of a clinical education experience. Respondents rated statements using a 5-point Likert-type scale Statistical analysis used descriptive statistics (mean and standard deviation) for demographic information. Aggregate Ascent to Competence items were created to develop belongingness and perceived competence constructs. Linear regression was used to analyze the relationship between belongingness and perceived competence.Results : Ninety-one (70 PT, 21 OT) of 409 eligible students (17%) completed the survey. Linear regression was conducted with the Òperceived competenceÓ variable regressed on the predictor, Òbelongingness.Ó Belongingness in the clinical environment predicted perceived competence measures, F(1, 89) = 159.226; P = .000, r2 = .637. The predictive equation was y(comp) = .721(Xbel) + 1.261. Thus, 63.7% of the variance in perceived competence within the clinical environment was predicted by belongingness, a large effect. Results indicated a significant difference (P = .000) in the relationship between studentsÕ belongingness and perceived competence in the clinic.Conclusions : The analysis lends further support to the role that belongingness plays in advancing perceived competence during the clinical learning experience, extending similar research from nursing to PT and OT professional students. The results suggest that the clinical education environment highly impacts student learning.Clinical Relevance : Findings from this research could be used to help re-design clinical education guidelines within educational programs in order to ensure maximal learning is achieved with each experience. Results could also help to mentor clinical educators in providing supportive knowledge, behaviors, and qualities that would ultimately allow students to have more positive clinical education experiences. Overall awareness of the profound impact that belongingness has on studentsÕ learning is important for clinical educators to acknowledge. Without proper understanding of its importance, clinical instructors may inhibit students from achieving their full potential.

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  • Control #: 2024121
  • Type: Platform
  • Event/Year: CSM2015
  • Authors: Joy R. Karges, Patti J. Berg-Poppe, Kory J. Zimney, Susan J. Gilkerson, Kendra M. Reuer, Ranelle Nissen
  • Keywords: Clinical Education Internship Experience|Competence|Belongingness

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