Department of Physical Therapy Student Theses, Dissertations and Capstones

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Physical Therapy

Copyright Statement

All rights reserved. This publication is intended for use solely by faculty, students, and staff of Nova Southeastern University. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, now known or later developed, including but not limited to photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author or the publisher.


College of Health Care Sciences - Physical Therapy Department

First Advisor

Cheryl Hill

Publication Date / Copyright Date



Nova Southeastern University


Problem Statement: Physical therapist (PT) students report discord between what they learn in the academic environment and what they experience in clinical practice. Despite increasing reporting requirements, standardized tests and measures (STMs) are not well integrated into routine clinical practice. The primary purposes of this study were to (1) examine clinical instructor (CI) and PT student characteristics and beliefs that influence the use of STMs in clinical practice, and (2) explore alignment between the STMs students learn during academic preparation to those commonly reported in clinical practice. Procedures/Methodology: In this mixed method sequential explanatory study, participant demographic characteristics, perceived STM confidence, value, attitudes/beliefs, and use were examined for relationships. PT students (n=123) and CIs (n=127) were surveyed during a terminal clinical experience (CE). Surveys were validated for face and content validity and internal consistency. A purposively selected subset of PT students (n=8) and CIs (n=9) were interviewed. Results: Significant, fair to moderate correlations were found between constructs of value, use, and confidence for both groups. Significant differences in STM value change were found between CIs and PT students. Significant change in student confidence in STM selection, administration, and interpretation occurred over the CE. Differences in STM selection confidence change by clinical focus area, and setting were identified. Clinical instructor APTA member status and number of students supervised were correlated with STM value and use constructs. A significant relationship was found between extrinsic and intrinsic drivers for STM use. Barriers and concerns regarding STMs are prevalent, with differences by practice setting and patient/client populations noted. Five primary themes and twelve subthemes were identified and consistent across groups. Report of STM use was high, although both groups identified concerns with STM suitability and applicability. Both groups felt students brought new knowledge to the clinic; neither group asserted definitively that this led to lasting change in practice as a result. Significance: Results from this study provides a clearer picture of the current state of STM utilization in PT practice, may guide efforts to advance STM use, and could aid academic programs in establishing priorities and teaching strategies for STM education within the curricula.


Physical Therapy


Clinical instructors, Physical therapist student, Physical therapy, Standardized tests and measures