Effectiveness of online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic on practical manual therapy skills of undergraduate physiotherapy students

Kerstin Luedtke*, Luisa Luebke, Ignacio Elizagaray-Garcia, Oskar Schindler, Tibor M. Szikszay

*Corresponding author for this work


Objectives: This study includes two separate parts: the objective for part A was to evaluate the practical manual therapy skills of undergraduate physiotherapy students who had learned manual therapy techniques either online or in classroom depending on the phases of the pandemic. The objective for part B was to evaluate in a randomized prospective design the effectiveness of video-based versus traditional teaching of a manual therapy technique. Design: Cross-sectional cohort study (part A) and randomized controlled trial (part B) Setting: University of Luebeck, undergraduate physiotherapy students in years 1–3 Method: In part A, physiotherapy students who had learned manual therapy either online (during the pandemic) or in classroom (prior to and after the lock down periods of the pandemic) were videotaped while performing two manual techniques on the knee joint and on the lumbar spine. Recordings were analyzed independently by two blinded raters according to a 10-item list of criteria. Inter-rater reliability was assessed using Cohen’s kappa for each item. Performance across cohorts was analyzed using analysis of variance. In part B, students were randomized to learn a new technique on the cervical spine either from a lecturer or from the same lecturer on a video recording (independent variable). Practical performance of the technique was analyzed by two raters blinded to group allocation according to a 10-item list of criteria (dependent variable). Results were analyzed statistically by using ANCOVA with year of study as a covariate. Results: Sixty-three and 56 students participated in part A and part B of the study, respectively. The inter-rater reliability for video analyses for both parts of the study was moderate (k = 0.402 to 0.441). In part A, there was no statistically significant difference across years of study for the practical performance of the technique on the back F(2,59) = 2.271; p = 0.112 or the knee joint F(2,59) = 3.028; p = 0.056. In part B, performance was significantly better when learned from a lecturer and practiced on a peer than when learned from a video and practiced on a rescue dummy (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Practical skill performance can be acquired from videos but immediate skill reproduction is significantly better when the technique is presented by a lecturer in classroom and practiced on peer students.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)349-357
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Research Areas and Centers

  • Health Sciences

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 205-27 Orthopaedics, Trauma Surgery and Reconstructive Surgery
  • 109-02 General and Domain-Specific Teaching and Learning
  • 409-05 Interactive and Intelligent Systems, Image and Language Processing, Computer Graphics and Visualisation

Coronavirus related work

  • Research on SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19

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