Master Adaptive Learners

Several recent events (aligning stars?) have me thinking about this “Master Adaptive Learners” (MAL) concept1,2,3 and how this is so

Master Adaptive Learners

Several recent events (aligning stars?) have me thinking about this “Master Adaptive Learners” (MAL) concept1,2,3 and how this is so closely intertwined with PT Learning For Practice LLC. I mentioned in the last post about my participation in the Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy (APPT) Education Summit III- an effort, still ongoing, to collectively decide what pediatric knowledge, skills, and attitudes physical therapy students need to learn. Several colleagues participated in the Summit, and also in the Faculty Institute 2-day Pre-Conference last November in Portland at the APPT Annual Conference. Ongoing conversations with these colleagues, especially Ashley Schilling and Jen Brilmyer, led us to this MAL concept area and the recommendation that this continues to evolve as an important area of focus for physical therapy education.1,2 Some interesting and interrelated questions include finding a balance between developing MAL and actually teaching the content that individuals need to know and be able to do, the teaching strategies that are likely to foster MAL versus teaching strategies that may hinder MAL, and the implications for post-graduate education and ongoing professional development?

Master Adaptive Learners know when additional learning is necessary and have a high level of skill at effectively and efficiently completing that learning.3 In certain circumstances for all of us, the routine approach is not working optimally, so it is important to recognize these circumstances relatively quickly and then to access resources that help us figure out- innovate/ problem solve- how best to modify our approach. According to Cutrer et al3, this requires an openness to reflecting on practice, meta-reasoning skills to recognize that routine expertise schema stored in long-term memory will not work, critical thinking to challenge current assumptions and beliefs, and the ability to reconstruct the problem space.

An important over-arching implication here is that so much of our learning occurs after we graduate, and it is entirely dependent on each of us individually to do that learning in a thoughtful, reflective, and ongoing way. Helping new students develop skills to do that well- to become Master Adaptive Learners- is therefore a really important outcome to strive toward in entry level education. Logically, a variety of high-quality, accessible, and impactful educational options for practitioners is therefore an absolute necessity as well. An important goal of PT Learning For Practice LLC is to support MAL by providing learning resources that lead to successful innovations in clinical practice. If you’re interested in thinking about and talking about this some more, we have a journal club on this MAL topic, with meeting dates on August 14, October 16, December 11, and February 12, all from 7:30-8:30 pm Eastern Time- please join us! The link to sign up for that journal club is here.

  1. Abraham et al. Master Adaptive Learning as a Framework for Physical Therapist Professional Education: A Call to Action. Physical Therapy. 2022; 102: 1-5
  2.  Jensen. Physical Therapy Education Through the Lens of the Master Adaptive Learner 24th Pauline Cerasoli Lecture. Journal of Physical Therapy Education. 2022
  3. Fostering the Development of Master Adaptive Learners: A Conceptual Model to Guide Skill Acquisition in Medical Education. Academic Medicine. 2017; 92: 70-75

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