A Comparative Analysis Of Computer-Assisted Instruction And Traditional Lecture Instruction For Administration And Management Topics In Physical Therapy Education

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Matthew R. Hyland
Genevieve Pinto-Zipp
Valerie Olson
Steven W. Lichtman


computer-assisted instruction, educational strategies, adult learning


Technological advancements and competition in student recruitment have challenged educational institutions to expand upon traditional teaching methods in order to attract, engage and retain students.  One strategy to meet this shift from educator-directed teaching to student-centered learning is greater computer utilization as an integral aspect of the learning environment. The purpose of the present study was to assess the effectiveness of utilizing Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI) to teach administration and management content in Physical Therapy (PT) education. It was hypothesized that CAI is equally effective for assimilation of information when compared to traditional lecture instruction (TLI).  The sample consisted of third-year entry-level PT students enrolled in an Administration and Management course.  Thirty-three of forty students who met the inclusion criteria consented to participate.  Both the Mercy College and Seton Hall University IRB boards approved the project and all students signed informed consents.  Participants were randomly assigned to the control (TLI, n=16) or experimental (CAI, n=17) group. Each participant completed a pretest on the material to be covered and a demographic survey to assess grade point average (GPA), gender, age and computer literacy. Students then attended the course in the designated medium and took a post-test at the end of the semester.  There were no significant differences between the two groups for GPA, age or gender. Both groups showed significant improvement from pretest to post-test (51.5±12.7 to 80.6±7.8; p<0.001), and (52.0±9.5 to 85.1±6.1; p<0.001), respectively. No significant difference was found between the groups for baseline knowledge (52.0±9.5 vs. 51.5±12.7; p=0.905), final exam scores (80.6±7.8 vs. 85.1±6.1; p=0.073) or final course grades (90.2±3.0 vs. 90.5±3.1; p=0.763).  The hypotheses that CAI is equally effective for assimilation and retention of information presented in a professional management and administration PT class, when compared to TLI, was supported. Areas for further analysis include examining student satisfaction levels, work efficiency and long-term retention of material.  With both teaching methods found to be equally effective, educators can utilize CAI to promote a student-centered experience for the high tech learners of today.  Hiring faculty from remote locations to fill positions for which candidates are unavailable locally, and allowing instructors to teach multiple sections of the same course at different geographic campuses, is also possible with CAI. Additionally, if the instructor or student is absent or a lecture is not finished in the classroom, the material can be placed online. This new evidence supports the use of CAI in teaching administration and management material to PT students, providing institutions of higher learning with an alternative teaching strategy to meet the needs of today’s students.


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