Review - Project-based learning for physiotherapy clinical education quality and capacity

Article: Project-based learning for physiotherapy clinical education quality and capacity
Article status: accepted
Author: Shamila Gamiet
Review date: 23 June 2020
DOI: 10.14426/opj/20200623

Peer review (Shamila Gamiet) – Project-based learning for physiotherapy clinical education quality and capacity

General comments

  • The article is relevant. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, physiotherapy education providers globally are identifying alternative and innovative ways to ensure students’ clinical learning outcomes are met for the 2020 academic year. The article also highlights other realistic challenges such as the increase in student numbers, lack of clinical placements and staff shortage which impacts on clinical education. The article adds value to the conservation of reshaping clinical education and contributes to the body of knowledge in physiotherapy. PjBL is clearly explained and the use of examples of PjBL activities enhances understanding of how this pedagogy facilitates students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This is in line with what clinical education aims to achieve globally.
  • The aim of the paper is clearly described.
  • Authors should, however, define and clarify terms such as clinical education managers, clinical placement providers, education providers, physiotherapy training providers and host organisations. It is explained that placement provider is the host organisation but it is difficult at times to keep up with the different terms used throughout the paper. A suggestion would be for the authors to consistently use the same word or term throughout the paper instead of interchanging words. One example: in the abstract, under the heading Implications for practice the terms “host organisation” and “physiotherapy clinical placements” is used in the same sentence. Therefore it would be beneficial to explain the difference.
  • Clarify: Is this pedagogical approach a partnership/collaboration between the education provider, the student and the host organisation? Throughout the paper there are inconsistencies. For example: in the abstract, in the last sentence under the Discussion heading, the authors say that the education provider should partner with the student and the host organisation. However, in the background section, paragraph 4 the authors talk about “.. a partnership between The University of Queensland (UQ) academics, clinical education managers and host organisations.”
  • Paragraph 6 talks about “.. a partnership between student and host organisation” and paragraph 7 talks about “..helps students co-design projects either with their education provider or host organisation..” I suggest that the authors clarify who the stakeholders are in this partnership.
    It is not clear if students work alone, in pairs or in groups in PjBL.
  • PjBL is a student-led activity and the student works autonomously while collaborating with various stakeholders. Does the student receive any guidance/input or feedback? If so, then who provides this guidance?
  • The first sentence in the background speaks about integrating knowledge, skills and professional behaviours and developing clinical performance. It may be valuable to show or to identify how PjBL achieves this by reinforcing it in the discussion section.
  • Some sentences are long and therefore not easy to read or follow the concepts. Please review the article carefully with this in mind.

Specific Comments


Background, paragraph 1, the last sentence: “..mutually beneficial for student learning and the goals of the host organisation” I am not sure what meant by the “goals if the host organisation.” Can this be explained by simply adding a few words?


Paragraph 1: “Physiotherapy training providers rely on supervised clinical placements…..” it is not clear who provides supervision. Is it a staff member employed at the clinical placement or a staff member employed at the university? The issue of staff shortage is also raised so it would be good to know if clinical staff are responsible for student supervision. This will impact on clinical placements’ capacity to host students.

Paragraph 6, 1st sentence: remove the apostrophe after the word students’ co-design….

Paragraph 6, 2nd sentence: remove the comma after the word discovery.


One Reply to “Peer review (Shamila Gamiet) – Project-based learning for physiotherapy clinical education quality and capacity”

  1. We really appreciate the depth of the review and subsequent comments and we trust that the changes to the manuscript as a result of this review have led to a much clearer and insightful read.

    With regard to the specific comments, we trust that minor changes provided throughout have addressed these recommendations.

    Thank you for the insight regarding our use of terminology of the different stakeholders. Your comment helps to give an ‘international’ lens where we now recognise that these terms may not be clear to all readers. We have made relevant changes to better define each of these terms within the text and have ensured that terminology is used consistently throughout.

    We reflect now on the use of the term ‘anonymously’ as outlined in your review and have decided that this probably doesn’t reflect the collaborative (and supervised) nature of PjBL in clinical placement settings. We have thus opted for the term ‘leadership’ as it allows the student to lead the task with high levels of collaboration and consultation. We have also made an addition here regarding the ‘guidance’ required from the placement site. We trust that this reflects for the reader that although this is a student-led task, it does not replace clinical placement contact and does not occur outside of the clinical placement context.

    Thank you for raising key concerns about partnerships between stakeholders and the several instances where there was confusion. We have corrected this, so this should now be very clear that the main negotiation and partnership in individual projects is between the host organisation and the student. The role of the education provider is to support that partnership, so we have tried to make this more clear throughout. We have removed the term ‘managers’ and ‘academics’ and used the term The University of Queensland as a whole to indicate support from University employees. We have also changed education provider to “University” as we feel that this provides more clarity for the reader in light of your comments. We have also removed the term ‘clinical placement providers’ as this adds another name that can create confusion.

    We appreciate the recommendation about re-iterating the requirement of students to meet professional and performance competencies over their placement into the discussion. We also feel that this will be a nice way to round out the discussion with a link to this important point. Subsequently, we have added this into the discussion, and we trust that this provides a more streamlined read.

    We have reviewed the manuscript for sentence length and have made several minor changes.

    We wish to thank you again for the time, effort and insight taken to review our work.

    Roma and Romany
    The University of Queensland

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.