Construct Validity and Internal Consistency of the Physical Therapist Student Evaluation of Clinical Experience and Clinical Instruction

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Educational Leadership


Department of Educational Administration


Advisor: Barbara M. De Luca


Healthcare student education program curricula include learning experiences in the classroom and in the clinic. As program improvement efforts and accreditation bodies compel programs to assess classroom instructor effectiveness, they also call for the assessment of in-the-clinic instructor effectiveness. The most widely-distributed tool used by the physical therapy profession to assess clinical instructor effectiveness, the American Physical Therapy Association Physical Therapist Student Evaluation of Clinical Experience and Clinical Instruction (PTSE), has been used since 2003 without an assessment of its construct validity and with only one study of its reliability conducted on a narrow sample of students from one physical therapist education program. The physical therapy profession is without a valid and reliable instrument to assess clinical instructor effectiveness. The purpose of this research was to assess the construct validity and reliability of the PTSE. A non-probability convenience sample of 5,128 students from 29 physical therapist education programs from eight of nine geographic regions in the United States completed 6,916 PTSEs in 2017 using a particular third-party clinical education database management system.This sample yielded three subsets of data. The first subset, "Paired Midterm", n = 1788, consisted of PTSEs completed by students at the midpoint of a clinical education experience. The second subset, "Paired Final", n = 1788, consisted of PTSEs completed at the endpoint of these same clinical education experiences by these same students. The third subset, "Only Final", n = 3340 consisted of PTSEs completed by students who only completed a PTSE at the endpoint of the clinical education experience.To assess the construct validity of the PTSE, the researcher conducted exploratory factor analysis with principle axis factor extraction and promax oblique rotation on each of the three PTSE data subsets. For each PTSE subset, factor analysis identified one factor of 17 items, named Clinical Instructor Effectiveness. These factor analyses did not identify a factor solution that included all 21 items of Section Two, Question 22, of the PTSE.To assess the (internal consistency) reliability of the PTSE, the researcher conducted Cronbach's Alpha analyses on each data subset and on each factor identified in the factor analyses. Resultant Cronbach's alpha values met minimum levels of acceptable internal consistency while exceeding the 0.90 level that raises the concern of item redundancy.Factor analyses and Cronbach's alpha analyses of three subsets of PTSEs completed by students from a non-probability convenience sample of physical therapist education programs in the United States did not establish the American Physical Therapy Association's Physical Therapist Student Assessment of Clinical Experience and Clinical Instruction as a valid instrument while identifying its reliability as suggestive of a redundancy of items.


Physical Therapy, Educational Tests and Measurements, Health Care, Health Education, Health Sciences, physical therapist, clinical instructor, clinical education, assessment and evaluation, effectiveness, performance

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