Medical EducationOriginal Article

Effect of Table Trainer–to-Student Ratios on Outcome in Student Assessments of Cervical Muscle Energy Techniques

Karen T. Snider, DO; Dennis J. Dowling, DO; Michael A. Seffinger, DO; Millicent K. Channell, DO; Sheldon C. Yao, DO; Sharon M. Gustowski, DO, MPH; Jane C. Johnson, MA; and Martin J. Pryor, DO, MPH
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Accepted: April 22, 2015

Published: September 1, 2015

J Osteopath Med; 115(9): 556-564

Context: Improving the acquisition of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) skills may increase student confidence and later use of OMT. A first step in this process is determining the optimal table trainer–to-student ratio (TTR).

Objectives: To determine the effect of TTR on knowledge and skill acquisition of cervical muscle energy OMT techniques in first-year osteopathic medical students.

Methods: First-year students at 3 colleges of osteopathic medicine received instruction on cervical diagnosis and muscle energy techniques at 1 of 3 workshops, each having a different TTR (1:4, 1:8, or 1:16). Written assessments were conducted immediately before and after the workshop and again 2 weeks later to test retention of the knowledge acquired. Practical assessments were conducted immediately after the workshop and 2 weeks later to test retention of the skills acquired and were graded for technical and proficiency elements.

Results: Ninety-two students completed pre- and postworkshop assessments, and 86 completed the retention assessment. No difference was found between TTRs on the preworkshop, postworkshop, and retention written scores (P≥.15). Postworkshop written assessment scores were highest, followed by retention scores; preworkshop scores were lowest (P<.001). Although the mean (SD) postworkshop practical scores for the 1:4 and 1:8 TTR workshop groups (266.3 [43.1] and 250.6 [47.5], respectively) were higher than those for the 1:16 TTR groups (230.3 [62.2]), the difference was not significant (P=.06). For the retention practical assessment scores, no significant difference was found between TTRs (P=.19). A significant interaction was noted between TTR and the timing of practical assessments; scores declined from postworkshop to retention assessments for the 1:4 (P=.04) and 1:8 (P=.02) TTR workshop groups but not the 1:16 TTR workshop groups (P=.21). Student order in paired student demonstrations also had a significant effect on technical scores (P≤.03); students who demonstrated techniques second had higher scores than those who demonstrated techniques first.

Conclusions: The TRR had no significant effect on written or practical assessment scores. Practical assessment scores for the 1:4 and 1:8 TTRs declined significantly between postworkshop and retention assessments. Future studies with more statistical power will be necessary to determine the effect of TTRs on student learning. The current study also found that student order in paired demonstrations may affect practical assessment scores, because the second-demonstrating student scored higher than the first; colleges of osteopathic medicine should therefore consider randomizing student order during practical assessments.

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