Competency-Based Education in Physical Therapy: Developing a Framework for Education Research : Journal of Physical Therapy Education

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Competency-Based Education in Physical Therapy: Developing a Framework for Education Research

Jensen, Gail M. PT, PhD, FAPTA; Jette, Diane U. PT, DSc, FAPTA; Timmerberg, Jean Fitzpatrick PT, DPT, PhD; Chesbro, Steven B. PT, DPT, EdD; Dole, Robin L. PT, DPT, EdD; Kapasi, Zoher PT, PhD, MBA, FAPTA; Lotshaw, Ana PT, PhD

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Journal of Physical Therapy Education 36(4):p 334-340, December 2022. | DOI: 10.1097/JTE.0000000000000254


Background and Purpose. 

The physical therapy education community is actively engaged in planning and developing an approach to competency-based education in physical therapy (CBEPT). The creation of an underlying framework for education research in CBEPT can provide guidance in identifying key areas of needed study, give direction for future research, and provide opportunities for collaboration. The purpose of this article is to 1) describe the critical concepts of CBEPT as both an educational philosophy and design and 2) identify a working education research framework, examples of potential research questions, and associated methodological considerations.

Position and Rationale. 

As the movement in CBEPT evolves, we have the opportunity to propose a working framework and potential research questions for our education community. An initial step in the development of a research framework was review of a model paper from medical education that proposed a research agenda for competency-based medical education. We developed a draft of categories and related research questions and then used an iterative group process that included members of the Education Leadership Partnership Education Research Network to review and provide feedback. Core areas for investigation include learners, the learning environment, learning progression, and faculty development needs along with examples of potential research questions in each area.

Discussion and Conclusion. 

The development of a research framework for CBEPT that can guide much needed education research is critical and timely for the profession. Evidence is vital to widespread adoption, informed and refined processes, understanding, and infrastructure development all linked with the ultimate aim of CBEPT—learner development and meeting societal needs.

© 2022 Academy of Physical Therapy Education, APTA

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