The effect of self-assessment on student competence in physiotherapy clinical training: a randomized controlled trial

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Background: Self-assessment is a method that allows students to reflect on and critically evaluate their performance, increases students’ involvement in learning, and improves academic achievement. In physiotherapy (PT) education, clinical training is a crucial component, guided by clinical educators (CEs), who assess and provide feedback, fostering student development. Limited research has investigated the impact of self-assessment on PT clinical training outcomes. This study aims to assess the effect of mid-term self-assessment during PT clinical training on students’ competence and on level of agreement between students’ self-assessment and CEs’ assessment at the end of the training. Methods: 23 CEs and their 52 undergraduate PT students participated in the study. The students underwent eight weeks of clinical training in outpatient PT clinics in groups of two or three. For each group, one CE performed student assessment at the mid-term and the end of the training using the Assessment of Physiotherapy Practice (APP) form, an assessment tool used to evaluate clinical competence in PT clinical training. One student from each group was randomly assigned to join the intervention group (IG). These students completed a self-assessment process at the mid-term of the training. All students were asked to complete a self-assessment form at the end of the training. Results: The median CE’s evaluation score halfway through the training was 80 [50–96] and 91 [65–100] at the end of the training, with no significant differences between the two groups. The level of agreement between the student and CE’s evaluation at the end of the training was not significantly different between the groups (p = 0.05). It noted that students who scored themselves higher than their CEs tended to have lower APP scores than others, based on CEs’ assessment. These students were found to have less academic experience. Nevertheless, those from the IG improved significantly, based on the CE’s assessment, during the second half of the training, compared to the controls. Conclusion: The main finding of the present study is that student participation in self-assessment during PT clinical training is advantageous, mainly for individuals undergoing their initial clinical training and in the early stages of their academic studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number780
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Clinical Education
  • Clinical training
  • Physiotherapy
  • Self-assessment

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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