Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Learning Sciences and Human Development

Committee Chair

Patricia Obenauf.


Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) is becoming more common in allied health education. Research on CAI has provided mixed results. The purpose of this study was to compare uses of CAI in entry-level physical therapist (PT) and physical therapist assistant (PTA) programs. Secondary purposes included determining faculty attitudes toward CAI, determining how faculty select and evaluate CAI, and describing faculty perceptions of CAI and the computer-based licensing exam. Results indicate no significant differences in the amount of CAI in PT and PTA programs. Positive aspects reported include improved knowledge of technology and improved independence with information gathering. Negative aspects reported include cost and lack of time for integration. Respondents indicate that CAI can develop higher-level thinking skills when designed and integrated appropriately, however respondents agree that psychomotor skills should not be taught via CAI. Respondents were unsure whether high or low aptitude students benefit more from CAI, and they were unsure whether one type of learning style (auditory, visual, or kinesthetic) benefits more. Results indicate that programs do not have formal selection criteria, and evaluation procedures reported included student outcomes and course evaluations. Finally, 64% of PT and 56% of PTA respondents indicated CAI adequately prepares students for the licensing exam, and 34% of PT and 40% of PTA respondents indicated the computer-based licensing exam influenced their decision to integrate CAI. Six concepts describing participant's perceptions of CAI in physical therapy education emerged from qualitative data. They were: (1) CAI develops computer skills, (2) CAI is an instructional tool, (3) CAI improves communication, (4) CAI can provide factual learning, but the instructor must use the CAI so that higher-level skills are attained, (5) Instructors must consider the context before integrating CAI, and (6) CAI has limitations.