Review (Schoeb) – What do students learn about communication ? The influence of the physiotherapy curriculum in constructing understandings in communication

General comments: It was a great pleasure to review this article. I find the article both very useful for educators, as well as for practitioners as it touches upon the link between learning in university setting and clinical practice. Furthermore, the article includes updated references and a solid argumentation enhancing the quality of the article. Below I will outline a few suggestions to improve the clarity of the article and make specific concepts more understandable to a general physiotherapy population.


Generally, well-written abstract.


The introduction covers the main literature on the topic of communication in physiotherapy practice, including practitioner-centred vs transactional approaches. It reviews articles within the context of physiotherapy curricula and identifies a lack of studies describing how physiotherapy students understand communication.

However, I would have liked to see a more detailed argument regarding the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches to investigate students’ conceptualisation of communication skills with regards to students’ ‘actual communication skills’.  What do we know about the process of learning in order to benefit from “reflecting about communication skills” to enhance communication skills?

Methodology and methods

Methodology: The article describes clearly the ontological and epistemological assumptions underlying this qualitative study. Being unfamiliar with the “Voice-centred relational methodology” and “Listening guide”, I would have liked to get more information regarding this approach. This information could be in included in a table highlighting the main ideas, or in an Appendix.

Research context: Could you explain more about the “tools for reflecting on communication” (p.4)? These tools seem relevant and closely linked to the objective of this study and would help the reader understand the context better.

Recruitment and participants: As I am not aware of the higher education system in New Zealand, I would appreciate an overview of the student population. What is the students’ age range, educational history, gender proportion, etc?


The findings are clearly explained and illustrated with quotes. I only have a minor comment regarding the presentation.

Presentation of quotes: I was not quite sure about how to understand the numbering: does #02 mean that this is coming from the second assignment? There is a number in brackets in the document, but it is unclear what the [1] means – this needs to be clarified. Personally, I find it easier to follow the argument if quotes are presented separately (as done with #6 and #01 on page 7).


The discussion puts the results in the context of the current literature. One point that might require more attention is related to the tension between formal, informal and hidden curricula: how could we enhance critical reflexivity within a school of physiotherapy? Do you have any suggestions?

Thank you very much for this very interesting article. I look forward to seeing more discussion on these topics in the future.

One thought on “Review (Schoeb) – What do students learn about communication ? The influence of the physiotherapy curriculum in constructing understandings in communication

  1. Thank you for your constructive comments.

    We appreciate that there are many ways in which one could investigate students’ conceptualisations of communication (which includes, but is not limited to communication skills). We are clear that the purpose of this paper is not to study actual communication skills, instead arguing that reflective writings can provide some insight into a student’s cognitive landscape (i.e. their thinking about the concept) which informs how they may enact this in practice. We have also added material about the strengths and limitations of using reflections.

    We have added more material about the Voice Centred Research Methodology.

    We have provided more details about both the research context and the general student population.

    We have clarified how material is presented in the text, adding explanation in both the methods section and the Findings section. We appreciate that quotes can be easier to see when standalone, but we are working with APA6 guidelines, which require quotes <40 words to be embedded within the paragraph.
    We have added some more information about teaching critical reflexivity although we note that the pedagogy of deep (critical) reflection is somewhat limited.

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