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Education Is a Social Process

Gwyer, Jan; Hack, Laurita

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Journal of Physical Therapy Education: October 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 3 - p 3


As educators, we understand this well-recognized quote by philosopher and educator John Dewey. We enjoy the social aspect of creating and implementing learning experiences for students. We urge our learner—be they student, patient, or colleague—to set aside his or her anxieties about learning. We encourage them to revel in this opportunity for growth, for this is, in fact, life itself!

This issue of the Journal of Physical Therapy Education provides vivid examples of the social nature of education in physical therapy. Four authors in this issue address topics in clinical education.

Coleman-Ferreira and Millar, Collins and Mowder-Tinney, and Greenfield et al report on inquiries into the development of clinical instructors. Coleman-Ferreira and Millar assert that personal satisfaction is a major motivator for clinical teachers. Collins and Mowder-Tinney tested a unique model of developing clinical instruction skills in students by apprenticing a more senior student with a CI and a more junior student. Greenfield et al queried experienced and credentialed clinical instructors, and identified the importance of a caring and incremental approach to teaching students. Buccieri et al report on a new instrument for evaluating directors of clinical education to be used in a robust process that seeks feedback from a variety sources. The social process that supports and enhances learning in any setting is clearly demonstrated in these papers.

Two groups of international authors contribute to our knowledge of curriculum content and of student academic stress during professional education. Heaney et al implemented a survey of content related to psychology in physiotherapy schools in the UK. Their findings allowed them to pose an interesting new question: Do PTs have sufficient training in psychology to allow the biopsychosocial model of health and well-being to compete with the biomedical model? Tamar, a faculty member in Israel, joined with colleagues from physiotherapy faculty in Sweden and Australia to report on levels of stress and contributing factors in physiotherapy students. Can you guess in which country they found the lowest rates of stress in students? Lee and colleagues report on 2 groups of physical therapists, 1 with multiple and 1 with few international practice experiences, to determine if the groups differ in their self-assessment on APTA's core values of social responsibility and cultural competence. One sees in each of these papers the importance of social context in understanding teaching and learning.

In this issue, Christine Baker, the 2012 Pauline Cerasoli lecturer, provides a thorough review of new technology used in facilitating learning from the classroom through continuing professional education and patient education. Baker challenges us as educators to continue to grow and incorporate effective educational technology in our teaching. The pace of change ever quickens, as Baker quotes Beverly Bishop in 1970 who noted, “PT programs should embrace the ‘new’ technologies of closed circuit television, making ‘teaching videos' for classroom use, among other uses.”1

As we begin our new fall semesters with new and returning students, we might be well-served to pause and remember that—for us, as well as our students—education is life itself, and we are fortunate to play a role.


1. Bishop B. Innovations in teaching physical therapy. Phys Ther. 1970;50(1):46-52.
Copyright2012 (C) Academy of Physical Therapy Education, APTA