A needs assessment and faculty development plan for new faculty in physical therapy

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching and Leadership


John A. Centra


Physical education, School adminstration

Subject Categories

Educational Administration and Supervision


The profession of physical therapy is currently experiencing unprecedented growth to greater demand for its services. This growth in response is compounded by two additional factors: (a) the move toward postbaccalaureate entry-level education, and (b) the trend toward legalized practice without a physician's referral. One result of these developments has been a critical shortage of faculty qualified for graduate level education. The purpose of this study was to assess the job-related needs of physical faculty and to design a faculty development plan for new faculty.

A survey method was employed to determine performance needs and preferences for faculty development. A needs assessment instrument containing 27 performance activities was constructed and pilot-tested. The population for the main study consisted of 101 new faculty, 57 program directors, and 289 experienced faculty in bachelor's or entry-level master's programs in physical therapy. Usable questionnaires were returned by 73% of the population. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and a MANOVA with repeated measures.

Needs were demonstrated in all performance activities analyzed. Greater needs were expressed by the new faculty and by both faculty groups in bachelor's programs. Preferred performance levels expressed by new faculty were higher than their ideal performance levels which were determined for them by program directors. High needs of new faculty were associated with low priorities of program directors. Regarding workloads, faculty preferred a decrease in teaching and increase in scholarly activities.

Preferred faculty development activities were grants and travel funds, individual consultations, and on-campus workshops. The July-August period was the first choice for scheduling a one-week, off-campus workshop.

A faculty development plan was created based upon the findings of this study. It consists of a late summer workshop, followed by local practice with consultation, and a follow-up workshop. The first workshop emphasizes instructional design, teaching, evaluation, and administration, while the second workshop focuses on scholarly activity.

The author concluded that new and experienced faculty have specific and similar needs in their performance areas. Any faculty development effort should address these needs and incorporate their preferences into a program design.


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