Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award


Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Tara Hornor

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Gail Jensen

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Joe Cardot


Professionalism is needed from each healthcare professional to meet the needs of patients, society, and the expectation that the profession has for its members. Professionalism comprises many attributes and is developed explicitly and implicitly over time through a variety of influential factors. Professional formation education should be an intentional emphasis in any professional program. However, in the academic preparation of healthcare professionals, including physical therapists, a lack of consistency exists in professionalism curricula. It does not appear there are published studies that have specifically compared the effect of curricular approaches in physical therapy education on students’ professional formation. The purpose of this quantitative causal-comparative study was to explore the influence of curricular design on professional formation, including ethical or moral reasoning and civic-mindedness in physical therapy students from two university-based institutions that utilize different curricular approaches. The researcher invited students from the graduating and incoming cohorts at each institution to complete the two online instruments used in this study. The Defining Issues Test (DIT-2) was used to assess moral reasoning. The Civic-Minded Professional (CMP) scale was used to assess the service/civic construct of professional formation in physical therapy students. Nearly half of the students from the four cohorts completed the surveys. The researcher analyzed the data using descriptive statistics and differences between groups (independent t tests, two-way ANOVA). The results did not show a statistically significant difference between the graduating cohorts in moral reasoning scores and civic-mindedness. However, gender demonstrated a significant main effect between the graduating cohorts. Additionally, gender showed significance between the graduating and incoming cohorts. A programmatic cultural investigation revealed a strong service culture within each physical therapy program. The results indicated that the curricular type may not be a significant factor in the differences of professional formation found among physical therapists and, potentially, academic programs for health professions. However, male participants were found to have significantly less moral reasoning and civic-mindedness than female participants, indicating a potential need to engage male students differently in the educational process of moral issues and civic opportunities.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.