Feasibility of an online clinical assessment of competence in physiotherapy students

Brooke Flew, Lucy Chipchase, Darren Lee, Jodie A. McClelland

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Introduction: The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility of an online clinical competency assessment for use with physiotherapy students as an alternative option to a traditional in-person assessment.

Methods: A mixed methods approach was used where student competency was evaluated by experienced assessors in both an in-person and an online assessment, and semi-structured interviews were conducted with all participants. Participants’ experiences and student competency outcomes were explored to evaluate the feasibility of the online assessment in terms of Implementation, Practicality, Acceptability and Demand.

Results: Participants described the online assessment as feasible in terms of both practicality and implementation. However, some concerns were raised by the assessors regarding the ability of the online assessment to capture “hands-on” skills, environment management skills and risk management skills. Competency outcomes of the online assessment were acceptable with over 80% of students received the same outcome on both assessments.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that an online assessment is a feasible method for evaluating clinical competence in physiotherapy students. However, certain challenges need to be addressed and further validation completed to ensure successful implementation. Ensuring the feasibility of online methods for assessing clinical competence has important implications for the future use of online assessment in health professional education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalPhysiotherapy Theory and Practice
Early online date26 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Apr 2024


  • High-stakes assessment
  • Clinical competence
  • Physiotherapy students
  • Feasibility
  • feasibility
  • clinical competence
  • physiotherapy students


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