|LETTER TO THE EDITOR
|Year : 2021 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 128-129
Changes in professional self-efficacy and competency knowledge following participation in a student-led exercise clinic
Jena Buchan, Kelly M Clanchy
Department of Discipline of Exercise Science, School of Health Sciences and Social Work, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
|Date of Submission||11-Jan-2021|
|Date of Decision||14-Feb-2022|
|Date of Acceptance||06-Feb-2022|
|Date of Web Publication||26-Apr-2022|
Griffith University-Gold Coast Campus, Southport QLD 4215
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Buchan J, Clanchy KM. Changes in professional self-efficacy and competency knowledge following participation in a student-led exercise clinic. Educ Health 2021;34:128-9
Work-integrated learning (WIL) is an integral component of various university programs, enhancing student learning through the connection of academic- and industry-based experiences. Providing quality WIL experiences may be limited by factors such as growing university enrolments and programs and strict regulatory body requirements. In exercise science programs, WIL is mandated for all students, placing increased demand on industry to provide high-quality, guideline-based WIL opportunities to assist in developing industry-ready students. Previous feedback from WIL supervisors indicates students entering their first placement may lack engagement and skill in areas including communication and client interaction. These limitations in core professional skills, plus unwillingness or low motivation to learn, resulted in a decreased interest in providing WIL opportunities.
Student-led clinics within the academic setting may present an opportunity to improve professional self-efficacy and readiness for WIL, but there is a paucity of evidence in exercise science. Given the growing demand on the industry for WIL opportunities and the perception that many students are unprepared, it is imperative to identify academic practices that develop more confident, competent students. Consequently, this research assessed students' perceived anxiety, professional competency, and self-efficacy before and following participation in a student-led exercise clinic.
Using a prospective, repeated-measures design, Bachelor of Exercise Science practicum students (N = 47) spent 6 weeks in an oncampus multidisciplinary health clinic, designing and delivering personalized exercise sessions to community-based clients. Four outcomes were assessed using a 22-item, 5-point Likert scale survey: student anxiety; professional self-efficacy; professional competencies knowledge; and industry interest. Repeated measures tests were used to determine the change in self-reported outcomes across time.
Twenty-six (55%) of 47 eligible students completed the survey. Median anxiety level reduced from 3 (interquartile range [IQR]: 2.25–3), “moderately anxious,” to 1 (IQR: 1–2), “not at all anxious.” Perceived professional self-efficacy significantly improved (P < 0.05) for 17 of 18 items and professional competencies knowledge improved significantly for all 12 items (P < 0.05) [Table 1]. These findings were supported by client exit survey feedback, with 35% of responding clients rating student practitioners as ≥8 of 10 for all professional skills. There was no significant change in student industry interest (Z = ‒0.206; P = 0.837). The program structure demonstrated good feasibility, with no changes required to the clinic structure.
|Table 1: Pre- and postprogram perceived professional competencies knowledge levels and changes in exercise science practicum students|
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This pilot research provides valuable findings for the feasibility and efficacy of a student-led exercise science clinic for reducing professional anxiety and improving perceived industry skills and knowledge. These improvements were observed despite the student participants having completed at least 2 years of exercise science coursework and laboratory-based practical sessions, including the completion of various professional competencies. In addition, even with a relatively high (4 of 5) initial median perceived self-efficacy and professional knowledge competency values for many of the items, there were still significant overall improvements in most areas. This may not only enhance future WIL experiences but also impact employability through the development of critical thinking skills and the ability to engage with and support clients., By providing students with active learning opportunities and increased autonomy and responsibility, there is a significant likelihood of developing better prepared and confident future practitioners.
The authors would like to sincerely thank all program participants and clinical supervisors involved in the research.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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