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Do Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy Curricula Teach Critical Thinking Skills?

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This study evaluated whether critical thinking ability can be improved through participation in occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) curricula. The researchers compared levels of the critical thinking skills of OT and PT students at the beginning and end of their programs to determine whether changes occurred and to examine facets of the curricula that may have caused the differences. The curricula include teaching strategies of problem-based learning modules, small group discussion and problem-solving, case studies, clinical observation, and evidence-based practice assignments, as well as teaching about critical thinking as a process in itself. Fifty OT and PT students completed the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal at the beginning and end of 20 mos of the academic phase of their master's degree programs. Researchers analyzed the data using a one-way repeated-measures ANOVA. Results showed no differences between OT and PT students on the pretest or post-test and no differences for PT students between the pretest and post-test. OT students' scores increased significantly from pretest to post-test. The influence of the timing of teaching critical thinking skills in the resulting differences between the two curricula, as well as the validity of the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal is a valid measure of critical thinking changes in allied health students are discussed.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-09-01

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  • The Journal of Allied Health is the official publication of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP). The Journal is the only interdisciplinary allied health periodical, publishing scholarly works related to research and development, feature articles, research abstracts and book reviews. Readers of the Journal comprise allied health leaders, educators, faculty and students.
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