An Exploration of Doctor of Physical Therapy Students' Belongingness in Clinical Education: A Validation Study

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<jats:sec> <jats:title>Introduction.</jats:title> <jats:p>The aim of this study was to adapt and validate the Belongingness Scale-Clinical Placement Experience (BES-CPE) for Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students in the United States.</jats:p> </jats:sec> <jats:sec> <jats:title>Review of Literature.</jats:title> <jats:p>Belongingness is vital to one's mental, emotional, and physical health. Research has shown that belongingness is positively correlated with students' academic performance and achievement. An absence of belongingness may hinder students' full participation in clinical experiences and compromise clinical achievement.</jats:p> </jats:sec> <jats:sec> <jats:title>Subjects.</jats:title> <jats:p>Respondents were current or former DPT students at least 18 years of age who had either completed the midterm evaluation of their final terminal full-time clinical education experience (TCE) in their DPT program or were no more than 1 year from the completion of their final TCE.</jats:p> </jats:sec> <jats:sec> <jats:title>Methods.</jats:title> <jats:p>The BES-CPE was adapted for DPT students, and the scale was completed electronically by those who met the inclusion criteria. Principal component analysis with promax rotation and Cronbach's α were used to determine construct validity and reliability.</jats:p> </jats:sec> <jats:sec> <jats:title>Results.</jats:title> <jats:p>One hundred fifty-nine respondents completed all items on the BES-CPE and demographic survey. A 3-component structure was identified (esteem, connectedness, and efficacy), which was aligned to the original BES-CPE scale. One item was discarded, and the final version of the BES-CPE for DPT students is a 33-item scale with satisfactory internal consistency.</jats:p> </jats:sec> <jats:sec> <jats:title>Discussion and Conclusion.</jats:title> <jats:p>This study adapted and provided evidence for validity of the first known scale to measure belongingness in DPT students during their clinical education experiences (CEEs) in the United States. The 33-item BES-CPE provided valid and reliable measures of belongingness in DPT students during CEEs that can be used to provide a better understanding of the student experience in the clinical learning environment.</jats:p> </jats:sec>





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Poole, Ashley K, Susan T Hibbard, Karla A Bell, Dawn S Brown, Chris Condran and Kyle Covington (2023). An Exploration of Doctor of Physical Therapy Students' Belongingness in Clinical Education: A Validation Study. Journal of Physical Therapy Education, 37(3). pp. 211–219. 10.1097/jte.0000000000000292 Retrieved from

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Ashley K. Poole

Assistant Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery

Dr. Poole is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Doctor of Physical Therapy Division. She is a board-certified clinical specialist in cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy, and her primary practice area is acute care. She has specific expertise in the care and management of patients with cardiovascular and pulmonary disorders, especially patients who are medically complex or in critical care.

Dr. Poole is actively involved at the national and state level. She serves as a delegate for the American Physical Therapy Association’s national House of Delegates and as secretary for the Academy of Education’s Academic Faculty Special Interest Group. She also co-hosts “Acute Conversations,” the official podcast of APTA-Acute Care. She co-chairs the Acute Care Core Outcome Measures Knowledge Translation Task Force and is a member of the APTA Cross-Academy COVID-19 Core Outcome Measure Task Force.  Currently, she is working with a team to revise a clinical practice guideline for the management of individuals with heart failure.  She was also on the leadership team that authored “Adult Vital Sign Interpretation in Acute Care Guide” which was developed by a joint task force of APTA Acute Care and the Academy of Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Physical Therapy.


Susan Teresa Hibbard

Assistant Consulting Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

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