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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Norena Badway

First Committee Member

Lynn Beck

Second Committee Member

Delores McNair

Third Committee Member

Jace Hargis


The purpose of this study was to analyze how senior instructors in physical therapist educational programs in northern California define and seek to impart to students information about professional behavior. Towards this end a qualitative investigation was conducted using case study methodologies. The researcher conducted interviews with 8 instructors teaching in 4 physical therapist educational programs in northern California. Each interview was analyzed as an individual case study, followed by a cross case analysis to identify common themes. From this analysis nine common themes emerged: (1) instructors found it difficult to broadly define professional behavior. (2) instructors expect students to be on time. (3) instructors expect students to speak and act with courtesy and respect. (4) instructors expect students to communicate appropriately. (5) instructors expect students to dress appropriately. (6) instructors expect students to participate in class. (7) instructors consciously model professional behavior as a way to communicate their expectations. (8) Instructors give instructions and provide students with feedback about professional behavior. (9) instructors do not attach a specific grade to professional behavior. Instructor perceptions that professional behavior was difficult to define was consistent with existing literature, as was their reluctance to grade professional behavior. Behavioral expectations that emerged as themes in this study fit within existing descriptions of professional behavior for physical therapists, specifically the core values adopted by the American Physical Therapy Association. This relationship suggests that the core values document may be used as a framework through which classroom professional behavior can be viewed. Instructor perceptions of strategies for conveying information about professional behavior to students were consistent with existing literature on modeling and explicit teaching. Based on the results of this study, a five-step process is proposed to facilitate appropriate professional behaviors by students in the classroom: (1) define program expectations for professional behavior. (2) move from theory to practice. (3) intentionally and consistently model desired behavior. (4) provide immediate feedback and incremental consequences. (5) consciously plan for faculty interaction.





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