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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Millenials In The PT Classroom

Published June 8, 2012 5:00 PM by Danielle Bullen

Tampa--Millenials. Gen Y. Whatever you call them, they form the bulk of physical therapy students and newly-minted physical therapists. In a session today at PT 2012 called "Responding to the Needs of the Millenials," Elisa Kennedy PT, PhD, PCS and Laura White PT, DScPT, GCS of the University of South Alabama, Department of Physical Therapy, and Cecilia Graham PT, PhD and Diane Clark PT, DScPT, MBA of the University of Alabama at Birmimgham discussed why physical therapist instructors need to re-think traditional models of teaching to better get into millenials' heads.

The Millenials are on track to become the most educated generation. As a whole, they are confident and achievement-oriented. On the flip side, Millenials have been criticized for their sense of entitlement. They crave feedback and praise, and many struggle with critical-thinking. The speakers outlined the five Rs that instructors should rely on when doing working with these students: Relevance, Rationale, Relaxation, Rapport, and Research-based methods.

Gen Y students are known for their tech savvy. But does technology improve comprehension. At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Drs. Graham and Clark studied whether a course combining in-person and online components improved learning processes and outcomes. The course, a pathology course in the DPT program, consisted of an online section for 1 credit and interactive in-class activities, like small group discussions, games and evaluating case studies, for 2 credits.

Students who took the course self-reported higher levels of engagement during class and higher levels of cooperation with their peers during class. They were also more likely to integrate what they were learning in their other courses. In negative outcomes, the students did not like the self-directed online component of the class, claiming it placed too much responsibility on them to understand the concepts. They also claimed that this model of learning was too time-consuming.

It's interesting to note that a generation raised on technology preferred an in-person style of learning. The students wanted in-depth active, over passive, learning. They also craved structure and wanted a context for what they learned in class. That's good news to professors out there. They really are listening to you.



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