Problem solving research: Preparing the foundations for video-based practice-placement support: establishing the role from a students’ perspective. -- 230 -- Proceedings Paper
Currently, many placement-based, health programme students within the United Kingdom are supported through face-to-face visits from University staff. These visits are conducted by academic staff to placement locations at considerable cost to programmes with large cohorts.
Whilst cited in literature as being of value, the face-to-face nature of this contact is not supported. Previous research has investigated the feasibility of using video-based communications to support students in wide ranging locations. The potential benefits of providing cost effective and environmentally responsible support to students has led to further consideration of the fitness for purpose of this strategy in the context of health programmes. However, many higher education programmes involve practice-based learning, often in distant locations. As such, this strategy offers the potential for frequent, easy access support for international, distant or remote placement locations for a wide range of subject areas. It is felt that the findings of this study will be of interest to anyone involved in curriculum planning for practice-based learning.
Current institutional and Government drivers encourage the introduction of technologies into the curriculum. However, following earlier research, it was felt to be necessary to investigate the fitness for purpose of video-based communications in the support of individual practice-based students. In order to predict the fitness for purpose of this medium in this role, the current role and purpose of clinical visits in supporting the student needed to be established. In the context of increasing importance of the student voice in curriculum planning, this project aimed to investigate student perceptions of the ideal content and purpose of clinical support visits, and alternatives to the current face-to-face approach.
The study involved Physiotherapy undergraduate students from years 2 and 3 of the programme. 56 students responded to initial questionnaires with a further 9 participating in a follow up focus group. Study results indicated perceived value in the clinical visit for the purpose of motivation, directing and focusing learning and providing opportunities to resolve arising issues. However, questionnaire responses indicated concerns over changes to the face-to-face format, particularly for failing placements. Focus group participants discussed reasons behind this, highlighting the importance of personal and professional confidence in directing requirements for support. Participants went on to propose a “menu” of support options including face-to-face, telephone, email and video-based communications, to be agreed between all involved on the basis of individual need and placement progress.
Video based communications are discussed as having limitations for some placement support content. However, the technology may offer benefits to students requiring multiple visits or engaging with currently unsupported international placements. Further investigation into the difference between face-to-face and video-based communications is advocated in the context of ensuring quality of the student experience.