Committee Chair

Crawford, Elizabeth K.

Committee Member

Banks, Steven R.; Rausch, David W.; O'Brien, Elizabeth R.


School of Professional Studies


College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


This study examined perceived barriers and benefits to holistic admission review in physical therapist education (PTE) programs. The mixed methods study utilized both quantitative and qualitative data collected via an online survey to accredited programs and collection of quantitative data from program websites, Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) program pages, the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapist Education (CAPTE), and the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). Seven research questions were addressed: • RQ1a: Is there a significant difference between the ultimate pass rate on the NPTE for programs that utilize holistic admissions and those that do not? (Quantitative) • RQ1b: Is there a significant difference between the first-time pass rate on the NPTE for programs that utilize holistic admissions and those that do not? (Quantitative) • RQ2: Is there a significant difference between program graduation/retention rates for programs that utilize holistic admissions and those that do not? (Quantitative) • RQ3: Is there a significant difference in the 1-year postgraduation employment rate for programs that utilize holistic admissions and those that do not? (Quantitative) • RQ4: Are there differences in perceptions of holistic admissions based on specific program attributes? (Quantitative) • RQ5: How is the holistic admissions process currently utilized in physical therapist education programs? (Qualitative) • RQ6: What are the perceived barriers and benefits to holistic admissions and how do programs address those barriers? (Qualitative) Results indicate that there is not a statistically significant difference between programs that utilize holistic admissions and those that do not for RQ1a-RQ4, with one exception. There was a significant difference in perceptions of holistic admissions between programs currently utilizing holistic review and those that did not. The utilization of qualitative methods in RQ5 and RQ6 provided rich data to help understand admission committees’ utilization and current perceptions of holistic admissions review, particularly in regard to perceived barriers and benefits. This qualitative data also provides important points of consideration for programs currently utilizing or considering the utilization of holistic admission review as well as direction for future research.


There are so many people that I want to recognize; I’m always afraid I will leave someone out. My family has supported me throughout this crazy endeavor. My parents frequently asked how things were going. My children showed me more grace and patience than I deserve. They have spent well over half their lives with a mom in school. I hope that they take with them the value of discovering new things and the pure joy of learning. My husband encouraged me and supported me, never letting me quit, and pushing me with a not-so-subtle reminder that I was taking longer to write a dissertation than he did. His love, support, and understanding of what I was going through was invaluable. I have had the support of our Dean, multiple department heads, faculty, and coworkers at UTC, particularly in Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy. They are an amazing group of people, and I deeply admire the work they do every single day both as therapists and as educators. I am grateful for all the times you asked about my dissertation progress and allowed me to ask questions, explore ideas, or simply vent (and for your mad motivational office decorating skills). A huge thank you goes out to Cohort 9. Its members have enriched my learning, exposed me to new ideas, and supported me through this process. I owe thanks to Dr. Koye Solomon for always checking in, encouraging me to keep going, and for being the best peer review partner I could ever ask for. You always asked thoughtful, pointed questions that made my work better. To Beth, Rita, and Crystal for helping to keep us all going and being a resource when needed. And finally, to Jen Litton, whose commentary, observations, and humor got us through those 8 hour Saturdays and long discussion boards. You left us far too soon and are dearly missed. (PSA to anyone reading this-get your colon screening.) I want to thank my committee and the LEAD faculty. You all encouraged me, broadened my horizons, challenged me to do more, made me angry, made me cry, and made me laugh. I have grown tremendously in the last ten years. Thank you to Drs. David Rausch and Ted Miller who were finally able to help me understand Bayesian statistics, Dr. Steven Banks for the endless hours of statistics and methodology guidance, and my chair Dr. Beth Crawford who always encouraged and pushed me and talked me off the proverbial ledge more times than I can count.


Ph. D.; A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.




Physical therapy schools; Universities and colleges--United States--Graduate work--Admission


Holistic Admission; Holistic Review; Physical Therapy; Physical Therapist Education; Perceived Barriers and Benefits; Diversity


Educational Leadership

Document Type

Doctoral dissertations




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