Student Supervision Strategies Utilized by Physical Therapists in the United Kingdom


Nova Southeastern University


Fort Lauderdale, FL

Publication Date / Copyright Date

February 2012


Objective: The objective of this study was to explore approaches used by novice physical therapy (PT) clinical educators to supervise students on placement. Background: PT students undertake clinical placements during their programs of study with clinical educators supervising achievement of learning outcomes. The variety of supervision approaches used during clinical education has given rise to concern about the quality of supervision provided to students. Previous studies have indicated that supervision models used by some clinical educators have limited the students’ development of critical thinking and reflective practice. Methods: Novice PT clinical educators completed a written questionnaire which focused on what strategies they use to supervise students on placement, how these strategies were developed by the clinical educator and what support is available to the educator when supervising a student. Following completion of the questionnaires participants discussed these topics in small groups. A further large group plenary discussion was held. Written data was collected at each stage and subjected to content analysis which was triangulated across the stages of data collection. Results: Educators used a variety of approaches to provide student supervision. Inconsistency was seen between learning outcomes and supervision approaches utilized. Supervision skills were often developed through university held training courses and feedback from colleagues and students. The interdisciplinary team and peers assisted educators in selecting supervision approaches to meet the needs of individual students. Conclusions: Data analysis indentified the need to explore the link between learning outcomes and supervision approaches and the use of formal and informal supervision approaches.


Physical Therapy

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Peer Reviewed