Theoretical frames and teaching styles of physical therapy faculty who lead international service-learning experiences

Jennifer Gail Audette, University of Rhode Island


Purpose: International service-learning (ISL) is popular in higher education, and many physical therapy educational programs are adding ISL opportunities to their curricula because doing so aligns with student interest and the increasingly global nature of the profession. The faculty leading these experiences have not been studied. Nearly all faculty in physical therapy programs are educated as therapists and not as teachers. Most do not have any background in pedagogical practice or educational theory. The purpose of this study was to describe faculty leading ISL experiences in physical therapy educational programs and compare them to faculty who do not participate in ISL. Of specific interest were demographic variables, teaching style, and educational theoretical frames. Method: Data was collected using an online Faculty Survey. Responses from two hundred and five physical therapy faculty subjects from across the United States were used for analysis. Forty seven (23%) of these subjects reported having participated in international service-learning. Data from faculty who participate in ISL (Y-ISL) were compared to those of faculty who do not participate in ISL (N-ISL). Analysis/Results: When comparing the Y-ISL and the N-ISL groups in terms of their demographics using descriptive statistics, t-test analysis, or chi square analysis differences were found only in age and years of practice. In terms of teaching style type (TST) - Expert / Formal Authority; Personal Model / Formal Authority / Delegator; Formal Authority / Delegator; Formal Authority / Facilitator / Delegator; Delegator / Facilitator, chi square analysis results indicate that there is no significant association between TST and Y-ISL and N-ISL. When exploring the theoretical frame types (TFT) - progressive theorist; critical theorist; and professional theorist - chi-square analysis indicated that there is a significant association between TFT and Y-ISL and N-ISL. Y-ISL faculty are more likely than N-ISL faculty to come from a professional theory frame. Regression analysis resulted in a model that is unable to predict Y-ISL or N-ISL group membership based on faculty demographics, TST and TFT. Discussion: The relevance of the study findings in relation to institutions of higher education, the field of physical therapy in general, physical therapy educational programs both with and without ISL programs, and individual faculty are addressed.

Subject Area

Multicultural Education|Health education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Jennifer Gail Audette, "Theoretical frames and teaching styles of physical therapy faculty who lead international service-learning experiences" (2011). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3449872.