Changing trends in program assessment in physical therapy education: perceptions of program directors.J Allied Health 1999; 28(3):165-73JA
Rather than focusing on student outcomes, educational programs are starting to assess activities that support the achievement of a program's specific mission and goals. Directors, faculty, students, and other stakeholders are encouraged to participate in the assessment activities. The accreditation agency for physical therapy education has recently implemented new criteria for program assessment that contain 11 components related to program content, management, and resources, with recommendations that various stakeholders participate in the process. The purposes of this study were 1) to identify the extents to which specific stakeholders participated in the assessment of three program components, and 2) to learn how program directors rated the importance of the new criteria. A survey was used to collect information from the program director of each accredited physical therapy program in the United States. The response rate was 50%. Results indicated that 76-100% of program chairs and faculty almost always participated in assessment activities related to institutional and program policies and procedures, and resources. In comparison, 20-57% of students, graduates, and support staff participated. Program chairs and faculty participated significantly more (p = 0.0000) compared with students, graduates, and support staff. Approximately 90% of the program directors believed the new criteria were important to the effectiveness of their programs. The results were used to critique program assessment in physical therapy education against recommendations cited in the literature and to share the perceptions that program directors have regarding assessment components that address broad areas of program activities and resources.