Education: assessment (FS-06)

Integrating formative assessment mechanisms during student clinical-internships: global perspectives

Joy Karges (United States of America), Aliya Chaudry (United States of America), Ana Maria Rojas Serey (Chile), Kanda Chaipinyo (Thailand), Joyce Mothabeng (South Africa)

Focused symposium

Saturday 2 May 2015, 10:45-12:15, Hall 405

Integrating formative assessment mechanisms during student clinical-internships: global perspectives

Karges J. 1, Chaudry A. 2, Rojas Serey A.M. 3, Chaipinyo K. 4, Mothabeng J. 5

1The University of South Dakota, Department of Physical Therapy, School of Health Sciences, Vermillion, South Dakota, United States of America, 2Langston University, School of Physical Therapy, Langston, Oklahoma, United States of America, 3Universidad de Chile, Facultad de Medicina, Escuela de Kinesiologia, Santiago, Chile, 4Srinakharinwirot University, Faculty of Health Science, Ongkharak, Nakhonnayok, Thailand, 5University of Pretoria, Physiotherapy Department, School of Health Care Sciences, Pretoria, South Africa

Learning objectives

  1. After attending the symposium, participants will be able to explain need for formative feedback, in addition to summative student assessment, during a clinical internship.
  2. After attending the symposium, participants will be able to identify various formative and summative assessment tools used across the globe.
  3. After attending the symposium, participants will be able to develop a plan for integrating formative feedback, in addition to summative student assessment, during clinical internships.


A student enrolled in a physiotherapy education program must complete clinical education experiences/internships as part of his/her formal education process. Typically, the clinical education experiences/internships occur off-campus at clinical facilities under the direction and supervision of a clinical instructor (CI) who is a practicing clinical physiotherapist and is responsible for assessing student performance at the clinical facility at midpoint and at conclusion of internship. That is, the CI is expected to summatively assess student performance at the clinical facility and convey that summative assessment to the student and academic faculty of the education program such as, the Director of Clinical Education (DCE). The DCE reviews CI's summative assessment of student performance at the clinic to assign a letter grade for the clinical internship. However, CI summative assessment of student performance may vary considerably from clinic to clinic. For example, the clinical environment may have additional specific expectations regarding patient load and productivity, which could potentially impact the time the supervising clinical instructor (CI) has available to provide comprehensive summative feedback to a physiotherapy student. Also, the teaching and learning styles of both the CI and physiotherapy student, in addition to the level of the student within the curriculum and the clinical setting, may impact how and when the CI provides summative feedback to the student. This in turn may impact the “real” value of the given summative feedback to the student who may not be able to reap the maximum benefit from the feedback provided. Therefore, it is crucial for the CI to provide feedback more often than just at midpoint and final; and have a variety of resources available to provide effective, objective feedback on an ongoing basis that is, formative feedback during the clinical internship in addition to the summative feedback. Also, research indicates that formative feedback of student performance in the clinic to the student and the DCE is crucial for the development of a physiotherapy student into a licensed professional. Moreover, in instances where the physiotherapy student is performing at a subpar level, formative feedback is critical to protect the CI and the academic institution from student complaints of unfair assessment of student performance and/or lack of adequate notice of subpar performance to student in a timely manner to effect change. This presentation will provide examples and strategies, including formative and summative assessment tools to assist physiotherapists who work with students during their clinical education experiences/internships in providing formative feedback throughout the internship in an objective, timely, and effective manner, as well as summatively at midterm and final, to help promote successful internship experiences. Current literature, anecdotal experiences, and clinical feedback tools from around the globe will be investigated and disseminated as part of this presentation.

Implications / Conclusions

Implications: Formative feedback, as well as summative assessment, is crucial for the ultimate success of a physiotherapy student in completing his/her clinical education experiences/internships. Therefore, the current symposium content focused on providing strategies to enhance formative feedback, in addition to summative assessment, will be beneficial for all CIs committed to providing quality clinical education experiences/internships to physiotherapy students across the globe.
Conclusions: Quality and timely formative feedback should set the tone for and provide credibility for summative feedback. The CI must plan for feedback to compliment the physiotherapy student's learning style, curricular level, and type of clinical education experience/internship in any region of the world. This will require the CI to be familiar with the corresponding educational program's curriculum, clinical education objectives, and other resources/assessment tools. Thus, providing quality formative feedback coupled with subsequent summative assessment is imperative for a success of any clinical education experience/internship. This is especially important in situations where the student is having difficulty with various aspects of the clinical education experience/internship. In this case, early and frequent formative feedback will allow the CI to give student time for corrective action, including remediation, to take place immediately. This will ultimately be in the best interest for the physiotherapy student both from an academic standpoint and, potentially, a financial standpoint.


Clinical Education; Formative and Summative Feedback; Assessment

Funding acknowledgements


Relevance to WCPT and expected audience

Physiotherapists are expected to supervise physiotherapy students completing clinical education experiences/internships and assess their performance at the clinical facility. This symposium therefore, will educate physiotherapists on importance of CI providing quality and timely formative feedback as an integral part of an objective and comprehensive assessment process of student performance at an internship. This will ultimately assist WCPT in its mission to “promote high standard of physical therapy practice, education, and research” across the globe.

Target audience

Physiotherapists practicing in any type of clinical setting, physiotherapy educators, physiotherapy administrators, physiotherapy employers and practice owners, and physiotherapy students.