Higher Education Institutions in the UK that offer programmes leading to professional registration with the Health Professions Council have been charged to provide the National Health Service with graduating autonomous professionals. Autonomous professionals are said to need: (a) Self-directed learning skills and attributes; (b) a positive academic self-efficacy; (c) an internal academic locus of control and (d) a positive academic self-concept. The curricular influences on the development of these learning profile skills and attributes can be mapped overtime using batteries of self-rated inventories. In response to initiatives to widen access into Higher Education, increasing numbers of mature (aged 21+years on admission) and male students are commencing undergraduate healthcare programmes. This study follows the learning profile changes of the mature, male physiotherapy students from two BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy cohorts and compares their development with that of their mature, female peers. Results suggest that the three-year undergraduate curriculum (validated 1997) had a negative effect on mature, male learning profile development. Most profile variables had fallen significantly overtime such that just prior to graduation the mature, male group was displaying a learning profile almost opposite to that suggested for an autonomous professional. The male group's cumulative assessment score was significantly lower than that for the mature, female group. The study explores the female dominance of the academic and clinical placement areas used to support undergraduate education, and considers the unintentional gender bias within elements of the curriculum and assessment design. Curricular adjustments made for the 2002 validated programme are discussed. With physiotherapy widening access initiatives striving to increase entry from non-traditional students (with mature and male students particularly targeted), this study suggests that the possible effects of curricular gender bias should not be overlooked.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Feb 2006|