Impact of guided self study on learning success in undergraduate physiotherapy students - a study protocol for a randomized controlled feasibility trial

Rogan, Slavko; Taeymans, Jan; Zuber, Stefan; Zinzen, Evert (2020). Impact of guided self study on learning success in undergraduate physiotherapy students - a study protocol for a randomized controlled feasibility trial Physical Therapy Reviews, 25(2), pp. 143-148. Routledge, Taylor & Francis 10.1080/10833196.2020.1778410

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Background: Self-directed learning or self-determined learning can be used in guided self-study (GSS) as an educational method with the goal to promote changes in the knowledge and skills of undergraduate physiotherapy students in higher education. Until now, there has been a lack of empirical evidence for the usage of GSS in physiotherapy higher education. At the Faculty of Physiotherapy in the Department of Health Professions (Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH), Switzerland) the module ‘basic examination’ – in the form of an objective structured examination (OSCE) and written exam – is scheduled in the first semester of the educational program. Objective: The primary aim of this study is to examine the feasibility of establishing GSS in an undergraduate physiotherapy degree program at the BFH. Secondary aim is to assess the effectiveness of GSS on the examination skills of first-semester undergraduate physiotherapy students will. Method: This paper describes the protocol of a randomized group-controlled educational feasibility study. 51 physiotherapy students from the first semester will be allocated into a guided self-study group (GSSG) or control group. The GSS takes place during the first semester, and consists of an eight-day cycle, with a presentation on the last day. Duration of this presentation is 90 minutes with supervision from a university lecturer. One week in advance of the presentation, the case and the learning goals are provided to the students electronically. The students prepare the cases in groups of five to six. The students are guided by the tutor during this preparation time. During a moderated plenum session, students present the results of group work and reflect upon the preparation phase and learning steps. Feasibility outcomes include the fidelity of implementation through exposure dosage, students’ responsiveness, program differentiation, and the degree of acceptability. Success criteria of feasibility are: 1) exposure dosage as the number of 90-minute presentations that are conducted, and the content of cases and competences, 2) students’ responsiveness, with the aim of 100% willingness to participate, and 3) program differentiation, which will illustrate the alignment between GSS case content and the curriculum. Acceptability of intervention from the students’ perspective will be evaluated by a semi-structured interview. Secondary outcomes will be the achieved grades in the OSCE exams and written exams that demonstrate learning success. Conclusion: This feasibility study assesses the fidelity of implementation, the degree of acceptability and the effectiveness of GSS sessions on examination skills in undergraduate physiotherapy students at the BFH. Furthermore, this study will demonstrate whether guided self-study is feasible and can be implemented with fidelity in the BFH physiotherapy higher education curriculum.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


School of Health Professions
School of Health Professions > G Teaching


Rogan, Slavko0000-0003-0865-2575;
Taeymans, Jan;
Zuber, Stefan and
Zinzen, Evert


L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education




Routledge, Taylor & Francis




Slavko Rogan

Date Deposited:

13 Jul 2020 14:28

Last Modified:

18 Dec 2020 13:30

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