PhD graduate’s opportunity at national conference

10 Mar 2016
PhD graduate’s opportunity at national conference
Jemima Spathis

An educational intervention designed for exercise physiology students has awarded a University of Queensland PhD graduate the opportunity to present at an annual conference to health professionals across Australasia.

The work was from Dr Jemima Spathis’s Graduate Certificate in Higher Education, she submitted for the Post Graduate Prize sponsored by the Australian and New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators (AZAHPE) Annual Conference.

“To attend and present my work at the ANZAHPE conference and receive feedback is a really exciting opportunity,” Dr Spathis said.

“I will be able to meet with and learn from experts in health education which I can apply to my current and future work in higher education.”

The intervention, designed by Dr Spathis for students enrolled in a disability-focused third-year exercise physiology course required students to participate in seven, two-hour practicals.

Students completed preparation workbook tasks, where they applied content learnt from lectures and online video-case studies, after which they participated in small-group role-play activities.

Props were used to simulate students being the therapist or the client, and they worked through a case-study of a client with a neurological condition.

“The results of the intervention showed students’ perception of knowledge, confidence and experience in developing physical activity programs for clients’ disabilities significantly increased following the seven weeks of activities.

“These skills are critical for the students’ future roles in the health sector.

The results also indicated that educators may be able to adopt this blended model to suit their contexts and tailor activities to suit the skills or knowledge their students require. 

One aspect of the role-play which was interesting from an observation perspective was having students ‘as the client’ in the role play scenarios. 

This enabled students to have a better understanding of the complexity of health condition and how they impacted on a person’s mobility and day-to-day activities,.

Creativity was encouraged in student approaches to designing a physical activity or exercise program for their ‘client’.

“The students had an ‘ah-huh’ moment if you will,” Dr Spathis said.

The graduate certificate was undertaken in addition to Dr Spathis’s PhD she completed in Paralympic classification in track and field events, 2015.

“The work I did during the graduate certificate has really opened up many doors for me.

“Not only do I get the opportunity to present at a national conference but I also gained a role in the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences to work on two large curriculum projects and apply the skills and knowledge learnt from the graduate certificate.”

The ANZAHPE conference will be held at the Perth Exhibition and Conference Centre, Perth, Western Australia, from March 19-23, 2016.