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Campus offering

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PHTY103 Foundations of Physiotherapy Practice 2

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

The use of best evidence is a critical component of physiotherapy clinical practice. In year 1 students were introduced to the principles of evidenced-based practice. In this unit key concepts in quantitative and qualitative research are introduced such as research design, data analyses including statistical analyses, and the importance of reliability, internal and external validity. Students will further develop their skills of scientific writing and oral presentation, database searching to identify research literature and using referencing systems. Basic competencies in critically evaluating literature will be developed including appraising the methodology, analysis, results and discussion sections of a paper. Students will also consider the implications of research findings for physiotherapy practice. The overall aim for the unit is to prepare students for the application of evidence-based practice in subsequent academic and clinical practice units.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Access and search databases and other resources to identify appropriate literature (GA10)

LO2 - Describe, discuss and evaluate quantitative and qualitative research methodologies including designs, and data analyses (GA4)

LO3 - Critically appraise the literature (GA4; GA5)

LO4 - Apply an evidence-based approach to decision-making for physiotherapy practice (GA3; GA4; GA5; GA8; GA9). 

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include:


  • Research designs
  • Quantitative and qualitative studies
  • Internal and external validity and reliability


  • Descriptive and inferential statistics
  • Thematic analysis
  • Performing statistical analyses
  • Interpreting statistical analyses

Evidence-based practice

  • Formulating a research/clinical question
  • Database searching
  • Critical appraisal of the literature including interventions, diagnosis, prognosis and qualitative studies
  • Interpreting and applying information to physiotherapy practice
  • Scientific writing
  • Referencing systems

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of learning with a combination of face-to-face, online and other directed independent learning activities.   

The theoretical knowledge underpinning understanding, critiquing and applying the findings of research will be delivered via lectures. Tutorial and practical classes provide students with the opportunity to consolidate and apply theoretical knowledge through the use of case scenarios.   

Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within group activities, demonstrating respect for the individual as an independent learner.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks align with the presentation of the content in this unit of study.  This unit takes an authentic assessment approach allowing students to demonstrate their learning and competency for evaluating and applying the findings of the literature as relevant to physiotherapy practice. Assessment task 1 (written examination) is designed for students to demonstrate the acquisition of knowledge as a foundation for the subsequent assessment tasks. For Assessment task 2 students are required to integrate the skills of data base searching, critical appraisal and interpretation of research findings of research relevant to physiotherapy practice in a written form. Feedback from this task will prepare students for Assessment task 3 where they will be required to demonstrate their ability to critically appraise and interpret research relevant to physiotherapy practice in more depth in a verbal form.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment task 1: Mid-semester written examination

Enables students to demonstrate their understanding of research methodologies and designs, and data analyses. 

1.5 hrs


LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5

Assessment task 2: Answering a clinical question  

Enables students to locate, critique, and interpret and discuss the implications of the findings of, a research paper relevant to physiotherapy practice. 



LO1, LO3, LO4

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment task 3: Critical appraisal of a research paper 

Enables students to critique and interpret and discuss the implications of the findings of literature relevant to physiotherapy practice. 



LO3, LO4

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Herbert, R., Jamtvedt, G., Hagen, K. B., & Mead, J. (2011). Practical evidence-based physiotherapy (2nd ed.). Sydney: Churchill Livingstone. 

Carter, R.E., & Lubinsky, J. (2016). Rehabilitation research: principles and applications (5th ed.) St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier Saunders 

Heiman, G. (2011) Basic statistics for the behavioral sciences (6th ed.). Belmone, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage 

Hickson, M. (2008). Research handbook for health care professionals (1st ed.). Wiley. 

Hulley, S., & Cummings, S. (2007). Designing clinical research (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins. 

Nayer, S., & Stanley, M. (2014). Qualitative research methodologies for occupational science and therapy. Routledge. 

Polgar, S., & Thomas, S. (2008). Introduction to research in the health sciences (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. 

Porter, S. (2008). First steps in researchA pocketbook for healthcare students. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. 

Portney, L. G., & Watkins, M. P. (2009).  Foundations of clinical research: Applications to practice (3rd ed.).  Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall Health. 

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