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Angelo State University
Physical Therapy Clinical Educators

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Physical Therapy Dept. 22Jan09 Photographer Danny Meyer

Helping a Low-Performing Student

Determining the Cause of Low Performance

  • Ask about the student’s perception of his or her performance.
  • Question the student to determine any knowledge deficits.
  • Observe the student closely to look for areas where performance is not satisfactory.

Possible Performance Problems and Solutions

Knowledge Deficits (cognitive domain)

Possible Solutions

  • Assign readings or research
  • Request written or oral reports
  • Create written or oral quizzes

Skill/Performance Deficits (psychomotor domain)

Possible Solutions

  • Clinical instructor demonstration/student observation
  • Student practice with the clinical instructor and/or a tech as the patient
    • Break the skill into component parts with practice on the problem areas.
    • Practice the whole skill when student performance is satisfactory on each part.
    • Use a variety of practice methods to teach the skill:
      • Student places his/her hands over the hands of the clinical instructor (hand-over-hand practice) while the clinical instructor performs a procedure on a real patient
      • Clinical instructor and student perform procedure on a patient and compare results
      • Patient feedback after clinical instructor and student perform the same procedure on the patient

Clinical Reasoning Deficits

Possible Solutions

  • Guided questioning
  • Paper cases
  • Assignments (preplanning for patient encounters with written and/or oral review by the clinical instructor)
  • Discussion of patients and/or plan of care prior to patient encounters
  • Simpler cases and/or working together with the clinical instructor to solve problems

Professional Behavior or Attitude Deficits (affective domain)

Use these tools to define unacceptable behaviors:

Possible Solutions

  • Reflective journals on the effect of the inappropriate behavior
  • Letter of apology
  • Written assignments
  • Case studies/ethical problem-solving exercises

Communicate with the Academic Program

Call or email the academic program for notification, assistance and requests for information:

Notify the program about:

  • Newly identified problems
  • Unsuccessful attempts to correct performance issues
  • Consistent or uncorrected safety issues
  • Insufficient preparation for the setting
  • Unethical behavior
  • Serious rule and/or legal violations that could result in the student’s immediate removal from the site

Seek assistance for:

  • Strategies for problem resolution
  • Confirmation of appropriate problem management
  • Resources for managing performance issues

Request information on:

  • Policies and/or procedures of the university and/or the physical therapy program
  • Curriculum
  • Academic performance
  • Legal issues (billing, supervision, documentation, etc.)
  • Problem diagnosis
  • Paperwork
  • Student assessment
  • Expert opinion


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