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Problem-Based Learning at Wheeling University is an intentional process of facilitating an appropriate level of clinical decision-making in students who are self-directed and actively involved in their learning. The faculty member encourages students to become autonomous practitioners through self, peer, and group-evaluation, reflection on practice decisions and building upon professional knowledge. The faculty member provides guidance, critical feedback, and evaluation on the students’ and groups’ utilization of physical therapy knowledge and skills.

Clinical Science – The foundation of Problem Based Learning (PBL)

In each semester the clinical science classes meet in small groups of fewer than 10 students with a tutor. The tutor helps to guide the students in their evaluation, goal development and treatment of the “paper patient” (called the case). The curriculum consists of 36 patient cases or scenarios that each has specific learning objectives and are explored in the Clinical Science classes. For example: a patient who has had a stroke, or a child who has muscular dystrophy.

Each of the patient scenarios is developed by and explored in the classes below using evidence-based methods to develop the student-centered approach to learning.

Basic Sciences

In the student-centered Basic Science classes, the diagnosis being presented in the Clinical Science class is supported by learning the anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, medical and PT interventions and laboratory values. These classes have 25 to 30 students enrolled.
Physical Therapy Science

In the Physical Therapy Science classes, the students are directed by the instructors to discover and practice the hands-on evaluation and treatment techniques needed when treating a patient with the diagnosis being studied in the Clinical Science Classes. These classes have 25 to 30 students enrolled.

Other classes that support each of the cases presented in the Clinical Science classes include:

Integrated Seminar – Material is presented to the entire class as a group to integrate and clarify information for each case during the term.

Professional issues – Depending upon the semester, a class that supports the case by exploring the laws, financial issues, technologies, research and ethics that are needed to support a modern-day practice of Physical Therapy.

Research – The student is directed in research methods and works closely with an assigned faculty member to conduct a capstone project that will be completed during the time they are in the program.

Service Learning – Students accompany faculty to community organizations, which have need for services from our department. These arrangements are mutually beneficial to the community and to the educational goals of our academic program. This service is expanded to include regional and international venues.