Professional Educational Philosophy

Original Editor - Stacy Schiurring based on the course by Larisa Hoffman

Top Contributors - Stacy Schiurring and Jess Bell

Introduction[edit | edit source]

A programme’s educational philosophy, mission, and vision frame the subsequent components of the programme including curricular design, course sequence and selection, teaching strategies and learning activities (including experiential education), assessment of the learner, and programmatic evaluation[1] [2]. The educational philosophy for the programme communicates the values and beliefs that are inherent within the programme[2][3].  The philosophy statement should also include a description of the learner, pedagogical strategies emphasised in the programme, and outcomes of the programme[4].  

Identifying Common Values[edit | edit source]

Values are enduring beliefs that guide behaviour in specific situations and can guide the evaluation of behaviour[5]

Recognising common values creates a common sense of purpose amongst stakeholders and can promote prioritisation of goals in a programme[6][7]

Value statements frequently identify: (1) respect, (2) integrity, (3) trust, (4) caring, (5) excellence, (6) collaboration, (7) service, (8) life-long learning, and (9) inclusivity[5].

  • Values identified in higher education institutions often focus on knowledge dissemination, development of expertise, and leadership skills[8]
  • Values at institutions that have a research focus may be innovation and excellence, whereas values at institutions with service as a focus include advocacy and compassion[8]

Aithal[5] has included a comprehensive list of core values that can be utilised. Values selected and shared by organisations that have similar objectives may be helpful. Brainstorming and prioritising value and belief statements is an essential first step in programme development and review.

Examples of value statements include:

Description of the Learner[edit | edit source]

Describing the learner identifies the target student the programme is designed to recruit and graduate. 

The attributes of the learner that should be described includes the level of the learner[9], desirable characteristics of the learner[10], and cultural aspects that may influence the learner[11]

Level of learning[edit | edit source]

The level of learning can include undergraduate or graduate students; or entry-level professional students or post-professional students[9], and will influence the level in which programme outcomes will be written[12]

Desirable traits of the learner[edit | edit source]

Recognising desirable traits in the learner can highlight behaviours that may drive success in the programme. The traits of a successful healthcare student and professional have been described in the master adaptive learner. 

The master adaptive learner is a professional who demonstrates adaptive expertise to flexibly solve complex novel problems using innovative solutions[13]

Behaviours observed in a master adaptive learner include (1) curiosity, (2) motivation, (3) growth mindset, and (4) resilience[10]. Critically, these are behaviours that may be inherent in an individual, but there is also potential for students to learn these skills.  Developing graduates who are master adaptive learners has the potential to create a workforce of practitioners who are capable of meeting the future needs of society[13]

Cultural influences on the learner[edit | edit source]

Finally, adapting to local context ensures the relevance to the learner[11]. It is imperative to consider the local health system, as well as the community's social and political history, including a thorough understanding of the local educational system, current workforce, national health policies and medical-legal system[11]. Does cultural appropriateness require a deep understanding of the lifestyle and behaviours of diverse communities[14]. Defining the target student for a programme is an essential first step in creating a programme’s philosophy.  

Pedagogical Strategies[edit | edit source]

Pedagogy is traditionally defined as "the theory and practice of teaching. Pedagogical strategies refer to an educator's methodology and process of teaching and learning using a specific curriculum with set goals in mind."[15]

Examples of pedagogical strategies include lecture-based instruction, facilitated discussions, and problem-based learning[16] .  Historically, education for health professionals has focused on science-based curricula and problem-based learning, but more recently there has been a shift toward competency-based education[16][13] [17]

Competency based education is an educational theory that uses an outcomes-based approach and emphasises content mastery[18], using the health system requirements to inform the curriculum[16].

Competency domains are categories with similar characteristics that can be observed in the expert clinician[17].  Many international organisations have defined competency domains and competencies including World Health Organization[19] and World Physiotherapy Association[20]

The pedagogical strategy can also be informed by theoretical models[21], including models for clinical reasoning[21][22], pattern recognition[23], reflection[24], and hypothesis generation[25][26]. Theoretical models can be also profession specific such as the Movement System[27], Canadian Model of Occupational Performance and Engagement[28], or the Model of Human Occupation[28].  Identifying the pedagogical strategies that will be emphasised in the programme can provide an opportunity to highlight the strengths and uniqueness of the programme.  

Programme Outcomes[edit | edit source]

Programme outcomes are knowledge, skills, and attributes expected in a graduate of the programme[12]. Outcomes statements provide an objective manner to ensure the programme accountability, as well as a benchmark to assess the effectiveness of the programme[29]

In order to identify outcomes of a programme, a clear understanding of the local rehabilitation needs is necessary[16]. Gathering data on target groups to be served, as well as current rehabilitation workforce can guide the definition of outcomes. 

Programme outcome standards[edit | edit source]

In addition to a thorough understanding of the local rehabilitation needs, programme outcomes are also influenced by standards. Standards can include requirements from local licensing boards, as well as institutional accreditation bodies (for institutional accreditation) and programme accreditation bodies (for professional programmes)[29]

Both the World Physiotherapy and World Federation of Occupation Therapy have accreditation processes that can be used in regions that do not have local, professional accreditation bodies. A thorough understanding of the local rehabilitation needs, as well as local and international standards, provides targets for programme outcomes to achieve.  

Environmental and institutional constraints[edit | edit source]

Programme outcomes are constrained by the environment and institutional culture[29]. The environment and resources that should be considered can include (1) classroom setup and clinical laboratory, (2) access to technology and equipment, (3) clinical sites for experiential learning, (4) instructors for teaching didactic and lab classes, and (5) preceptors for clinical experiences.

Programme outcomes must also be guided by institutional cultures such as (1) university policies and procedures, (2) student and faculty handbooks, and (3) the institution's philosophy, mission and vision[29]

Both the environment and culture can identify constraints for the programme outcomes to work within, which helps to ensure that programme outcomes are realistic in the current environment.  

Programme outcomes should reflect diverse behaviours observed in the practising clinician, considering the multiple roles and responsibilities of the profession. 

  • The World Health Organization’s Rehabilitation Competency Framework identified five competencies for rehabilitation providers:  (1) clinical practice, (2) professionalism, (3) learning and development, (4) management and leadership, and (5) research. 
  • The World Physiotherapist Education Framework identifies eight domains of physiotherapy competence:  (1) assessment and intervention, (2) ethical and professional practice, (3) communication, (4) evidence-based practice, (5) interprofessional teamwork, (6) reflective practice and lifelong learning, (7) quality improvement, and (8) leadership and management.    

Programme outcomes should be student-centred, emphasising observable behaviours, as well as the conditions and level in which the graduate is expected to perform[29]. Student-centred outcomes start with the phrase: “the graduate will…”. Observable behaviours are measurable observations which demonstrate knowledge, skills or attitudes. Conditions in which the behaviour will be measured can be helpful (consider clinical setting, research center, and or community settings). 

Finally, the standard by which the graduate is expected to perform can include accuracy of performance or degree of supervision by a preceptor. Programme outcomes with greater specificity are easier to measure, however, too much specificity requires a greater number of outcomes. Careful consideration should be given to programme outcomes, as programme outcomes identify the benchmark for measuring the programme’s success.  

Review the RELAB toolkit’s philosophy statement:  [edit | edit source]

Please read and review the RELAB toolkit's philosophy statement. Please note the various components discussed above within this statement.

RELAB Toolkit’s Philosophy Statement

We believe all rehabilitation professionals around the world should have access to up-to-date competency-informed education. We innovate teaching and learning resources that can be adapted to local contexts. We mentor teachers and learners in their unique environments using hybrid education.

We embrace lifelong learning in the continuous formation of rehabilitation professionals as:

  1. Experts who integrate knowledge, skills, and attitudes with reflective clinical reasoning to provide quality rehabilitation care to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and communities.
  2. Leaders who are visionaries that advise, advocate, and transform health systems to influence and advance rehabilitation professions towards global equitable access to rehabilitation.
  3. Professionals who behave ethically, mindfully, autonomously, and are committed to lifelong learning and standards of excellence.
  4. Scholars who actively seek, integrate, and create knowledge to deliver up-to-date and evidence-informed rehabilitation.
  5. Communicators who adapt strategies for effective connectivity with diverse audiences according to context.
  6. Collaborators who build relationships near and far to strengthen the rehabilitation workforce globally.
  7. Managers who leverage resources to build sustainable cultures of ethical business practices that employ standards (legal, policy, and safety, etc.) for quality assurance.

Our approach to teaching and learning engages the rehabilitation workforce (physiotherapy, occupational, therapy, speech and language therapy, prosthetics and orthotics, rehabilitation nursing, social work, psychology, and physical medicine) to work collaboratively as a team with the ultimate aims of integrating comprehensive rehabilitation services into health systems and achieving equitable access to quality rehabilitation around the world.

Resources[edit | edit source]

Optional Additional Recommended Reading:

References[edit | edit source]

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  10. 10.0 10.1 Cutrer WB, Pusic MV, Gruppen LD, Hammoud MM, Santen SA. The Master Adaptive Learner: The AMA MedEd Innovation Series. Philadelphia, Elsevier; 2020
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Lagoo, J.A., Lagoo-Deenadayalan, S.A. (2017). The Importance of Contextual Relevance and Cultural Appropriateness in Global Surgery. In: Park, A., Price, R. (eds) Global Surgery. Springer, Cham.
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