First-year physiotherapy students who elect to participate in simulation-based learning activities benefit from the experience


  • Diane Dennis Curtin University
  • Leo Ng Curtin University
  • Anne Furness Curtin University



simulation, simulation-based learning, physiotherapy


Introduction: Simulation-based learning (SBL) activities are beginning to be effectively incorporated into physiotherapy entry-level curricula, and there is evidence suggesting they should be introduced early in order to facilitate later complex learning. The aims of the study were to implement SBL into the first-year physiotherapy programme and to evaluate subsequent practical performance of both technical and non-technical skills and the extent to which students valued and enjoyed the experience.

Methods: During first semester of 2015, 149 first-year physiotherapy students, enrolled at Curtin University, participated in SBL scenarios involving implementation and practice of clinical skills taught in their practical class. Students then completed a questionnaire rating their enjoyment of the activity. Final marks for the middle and end of semester practical assessments were collated, and these marks were cross referenced to the SBL activity attendance records. 

Results: Those students who attended both SBL activities failed on fewer occasions (p = 0.001) and scored significantly higher than those who had attended one or none (p < 0.001). The majority of students felt that the SBL activities were a positive learning experience (85%) that created a realistic environment (74%) with realistic simulated participants (78%). Students most valued having a “real” age-appropriate patient in a realistic clinical setting with whom they undertook a relevant task.

Conclusions: First-year physiotherapy undergraduate students enjoyed SBL activities and benefitted from them in terms of their practical assessment mark and grade.


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How to Cite

Dennis, D., Ng, L., & Furness, A. (2017). First-year physiotherapy students who elect to participate in simulation-based learning activities benefit from the experience. Focus on Health Professional Education: A Multi-Professional Journal, 18(2), 90–102.