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Faculty Research Fellows


Betsey Blackmer
Associate Professor
Co-op Department
Bouve College of Health Sciences
6 Robinson Hall

Lorna Hayward
Assistant Professor
Physical Therapy
Bouve College of Health Sciences
6 Robinson Hall


Betsey Blackmer and Lorna Hayward are collaborating to complete a POE project that involves faculty in the departments of physical therapy and cooperative education who will work to create learning communities composed of Northeastern (NU) physical therapist students, faculty, and alumni. The purpose of the learning communities is to provide a systematic procedure for addressing two emerging concerns in NU physical therapist student education:

  1. Northeastern’s conversion to semesters brought about a number of changes to the physical therapy curriculum including: a reduction of time spent on coop (from 18 months to 12 months) and off-campus for clinical education during the sixth year.
  2. The professional physical therapy accreditation team noted that NU is the only physical therapy department in the nation that uses a coop model. The evaluators recommended that we study the impact of our educational model on student learning and professional development.

A faculty team from the Physical Therapy Dept. and the Coop Dept. will create learning communities composed of NU physical therapy alumni, faculty, and students. Learning communities will be designed to:

  1. Evaluate how the semester conversion may affect student learning on either co-op or clinical affiliation.

  2. Identify strategies for maintaining connections between the university and students in experiential settings.

  3. Evaluate the impact of a standardized patient model for promoting and assessing student integration of professional, liberal, and experiential education.

We will assess outcomes by analyzing grades for standardized patient assignments, feedback from faculty, peers and patients, and reflective journal assignments. In addition, we will conduct focus groups and interviews with a sample of student, faculty and alumni to evaluate their experiences with the standardized patient-learning community process. Results of the project will unify our research interests in reflection, creative teaching strategies, the integration of work and learning, technology, and mentoring. In addition, results will demonstrate why our students might be different from others and how and why POE works to develop essential skills in students.

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