Qualitative case study of physical therapist students' attitudes, motivations, and affective behaviors

J Allied Health. 1999 Fall;28(3):155-64.


The purposes of this study were 1) to describe and document the attitudes, motivations, and affective behaviors of senior physical therapist students at a single university, and 2) to determine how data gathered from this work might assist with curriculum changes designed to promote professional behavior and self-directed learning. Student attitudes, behaviors, and motivations were identified using a qualitative case-study method. Phase one of the study examined clinical experiences using four focus groups, one conducted with six clinical instructors and three with 21 senior physical therapist students. Five follow-up interviews were conducted with students. During phase two, the same 21 students were queried about their classroom experiences using three focus groups and five follow-up interviews. Five major themes were identified: 1) mismatch of expectations between students and instructors, 2) preferred learning environment, 3) student-instructor relationship, 4) vocational expectations, and 5) stress. These themes parallel Chickering's theory of social development in college students. The authors encourage curriculum changes that directly address issues of professionalism, create an active learning environment, promote collaboration, and provide students with strategies for stress management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Curriculum
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / education*
  • Students, Health Occupations / psychology*