Approaches to learning on placement: The students' perspective

Clare Kell*, Gwyneth Owen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Purpose: With Continuing Professional Development activity, a requirement of Allied Health Professional registration in the UK and said to be most effectively supported by practitioners who adopt a deep approach to learning, a UK university has been exploring how its pre-registration curriculum influences learner development. This paper investigates the possible influences of the clinical placement component of the curriculum that is structured as four 4-week blocks during both Years 2 and 3 of the 3-year BSc (Hons) programme. A range of placement models are used within this structure including the traditional 1:1 educator: student ratio and those that have a higher ratio of student(s): educator(s). Methods: This phase of the larger project used a case study design framed about students from two academic year groups on one UK undergraduate, pre-registration physiotherapy programme. Three questionnaires comprising a learning approaches inventory, a demographic questionnaire and a placement self-assessment form were posted to Year 2 and 3 students during one clinical placement. The students were invited to complete the questionnaires halfway through their placement, but in advance of the first, formal placement education feedback meeting. The need for students' selfassessment prevented follow-up data collection. Results: Analysis of the data from the learning approaches inventory against the demographic variables and placement assessment scores suggest that students' learning strategies depend upon the number of students, educators and assessors involved in their placement. The paper explores the possible links between placement experience, learning strategy and academic outcome. The authors question assumptions about the perceived benefits of some placement education models. Conclusion: Increasing the ratio of student: educator or educator: student may have a detrimental effect on students' learning development when placements are of 4-week duration. If such placement models are adopted, then students and placement educators must be adequately prepared and supported so that students' learning development towards the deep-learning autonomous professionals of tomorrow can continue through placement education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-115
Number of pages11
JournalPhysiotherapy Research International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • CPD
  • Learning approach
  • Physiotherapy
  • Placement learning
  • Profession


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