Underpinning Kate Scrivener’s teaching approach is a desire to develop competent and thoughtful neurological physiotherapists. In 2017 Kate received a VC Citation for teaching excellence, principally for ‘creating an authentic learning environment’ for her students. 

Physiotherapy students are typically young and healthy, with little experience of the catastrophic impact of neurological conditions, such as stroke. In preparing future physiotherapists for real-world practice, Kate believes it is essential that students are given the opportunity to engage in learning activities that authenticate the scenarios they will experience beyond the classroom walls.  In educationauthentic learning is a relatively new instructional approach that allows students to explore, discuss, and meaningfully construct concepts and relationships in contexts that involve real-world problems and projects that are relevant to the learner.

It is very difficult for a university student to imagine what the effects of stroke or other neurological conditions look like. Students must be given the opportunity to engage in authentic learning activities in order to promote a shift in their perspective and their ability to provide healthcare that is truly person-centred.

To develop advanced analytical skills, including the ability to observe and analyse movement, takes considerable practice. Kate views the appropriate use of technology and modern pedagogical strategies as key to bridging the gap between student experience and the real world demands on their ability to practice, including their ability to accurately analyse movement in the face of complex neurological impairments. 

Utilising her status as both clinician and researcher, in the area of neurological rehabilitation, Kate set about creating a package of online resources to support student learning.  The resources were specifically designed to integrate foundational scientific principles and best available evidence with a person-centered approach to the assessment and management of individuals with complex neurological conditions. According to Kate, these online resources act to: 

  1. Contextualise learning by providing authentic, real-world experiences using video footage of people after stroke and during physiotherapy sessions. Resources provides students with a visual picture of what a typical therapy session may look like.
  2. Enhance reflection and self-evaluation by incorporating interactive learning activities that provide immediate formative feedback to students.  
  3. Scaffold the complex skill of analysis of movement, a core analytical skill of accomplished physiotherapists. 

Kate Scrivener with students

The resources are numerous and include videos of movement in people with and without neurological conditions, videos of treatment sessions and interviews with people with neurological conditions. The resources link university learning with the authentic experience of a physiotherapist in the field of neurology, having to manage an individual recovering from stroke.

There is also an online module on guided “Electrical Stimulation” that demonstrates “real-life” clinical practice to physiotherapy students. Electrical stimulation is an evidence-based treatment for paralysis after stroke. Within this module, students view two videos of a person with paralysis after stroke. Students are guided through an assessment and developing a treatment plan. The module includes two videos that demonstrate how to use and apply electrical stimulation. The aim of this module is to contextualise the use of this treatment technique and then develop students’ technical skills.  

Register for a Connect Session on 5 June to hear further from Kate about creating an authentic learning environment for students

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Posted by Lyn Collins

Senior Instructional Designer in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

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