Purpose: To describe and compare the development of emotional-social intelligence (ESI) of physical therapy students from a traditional education program and a problem-based learning (PBL) program during the initial academic component of their first professional year of studies. Methods: At the beginning of their first professional year (time 1), sixty students (39 from the traditional program, 21 from the PBL program) completed the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory Short (EQ-i:S) for ESI. The EQ-i:S provides a total score and five subscale scores (Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Stress Management, Adaptability, and General Mood). Higher scores mean higher levels of ESI. The students completed the EQ-i:S again at the end of their first academic year, just prior to commencing their first full-time clinical placement (time 2). Results: A two-way ANOVA with repeated measures (group versus time) revealed significant group by time interaction effects (p< .001) for the total EQ-i:S score and the intrapersonal, Stress Management and General Mood subscale scores. This interaction was a result of a decrease in scores for students from the traditional education program [Total Score: 105.0 (9.3) to 100.0 (11.3)], and an increase for those from the PBL program [Total Score: 98.3 (11.4) to 101.9 (13.1)] from time 1 to time 2. Conclusion: Although the observed changes in ESI were small in both groups, the patterns of change were different in students from traditional and PBL programs. More research is required to determine the reason for these differences.




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