The MSc(PT) Program curriculum has been renewed using the concept of a spiral curriculum. A spiral curriculum occurs when there is an iterative revisiting of topics, subjects or themes across the program (Harden, 1999; Fraser et al, 2019). Within a spiral curriculum, the complexity of a topic or theme increases with each successsive introduction – so new learning is related to previous learning (Harden, 1999; Fraser et al, 2019).
The benefits of a spiral curriculum include:
The MSc(PT) program’s mission, educational philosophy, values, student outcomes and program outcomes form the foundation for the physical therapy curriculum. At the core of the curriculum design are patient/client centered care and the physiotherapist as an expert in function and functional capacity. This is based on the integration of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) (https://www.who.int/classifications/icf/en/) within a clinical decision making framework and the Essential Competencies for Physiotherapists (https://physiotherapy.ca/essential-competency-profile).
The curriculum emphasizes a self-directed, problem-based, evidence-based, and integrated approach. The curriculum is supported by organizing elements – which provide the foundation on which all units of study are built. These elements are:
Additionally, there are themes which can be identified throughout courses and the curriculum (known as trans-curricular themes), and that are used to assist in preparing students to function in an increasingly complex social and health care systems. These themes are:
With exposure to the SPIREL curriculum, its’ organizational elements and trans-curricular themes, graduates of the McMaster MSc(PT) Program will be competent to practice physiotherapy autonomously at an entry level, in Canada.
Click on each term from our SPIREL curriculum to learn more about how it relates to the Physiotherapy Program at McMaster:
Fraser S, Wright, AD, van Donkelaar Pv, Smirl, JD. Cross-sectional comparison of spiral versus block integrated curriculums in preparing medical students to diagnose and manage concussions. BMC Medical Education. 2019; 19:17
Harden RM. What is a spiral curriculum. Medical Teacher. 1999;21(2): 141-143
National Physiotherapy Advisory Group (NPAG). NPAG Competency Profile for Physiotherapists in Canada (2017). Available from: https://physiotherapy.ca/sites/default/files/competency_profile_final_en.pdf
Schon DA. Educating the Reflective Practitioner: Toward a New Design for Teaching and Learning in the Professions. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 1987.
World Health Organization. International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). Available from: https://www.who.int/classifications/icf/en/
Ziebart C, MacDermid JC. Reflective practice in physical therapy: a scoping review. Phys Ther. 2019;99:1056-1068.