Ph.D. in Education, 2015
School of Education
July 1, 2011
Doctoral Research Focuses on Teaching and Learning in Physical Therapy Professional Education
Sarah Gilliland is a doctoral student in Education with a specialization in Learning, Cognition, and Development. Sarah completed her BA in Kinesiology at Rice University in 1998. From 1998-2003, she taught high school math and physics at Castilleja School in Palo Alto, California. In addition to classroom teaching, Sarah played an active part in the school community as the ninth grade class advisor and coach of the school’s triathlon team (one of the first in the nation), which she founded in 1999.
Sarah completed her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at Chapman University in 2008. Her clinical interests include sports physical therapy, neurological rehabilitation, and the promotion of physical activity for older adults. During her graduate studies at Chapman, Sarah worked as a teaching assistant for the human anatomy and neuroanatomy laboratory courses. Following her graduation, she took a part time faculty position at Chapman, continuing to teach anatomy courses in addition to teaching biomechanics, kinesiology, wellness and complementary medicine, and neurologic pathology. An interest in combining her passion for education and physical therapy drew her to pursue a Ph.D. in Education at UC Irvine.
The focus of Sarah’s studies at UCI is research on teaching and learning in physical therapy professional education. She is especially interested in how physical therapy students synthesize knowledge gained from lecture and lab coursework in order to apply it to meaningful clinical situations. Her first year project was a qualitative study of clinical reasoning processes in first and third year physical therapy students. Sarah plans to complete a follow-up study documenting the continuing development of clinical reasoning processes as students progress through their professional education. She plans to use the findings from her study to inform future work in curriculum design for physical therapy education.
Sarah was the recipient of the 2011-2012 Pittsburgh-Marquette Challenge award and Promotion of Doctoral Studies scholarship from the Foundation for Physical Therapy. This award is presented annually to a physical therapist pursuing doctoral studies whose research contributes to the advancement of physical therapy.
During her second year in the program, Sarah is looking to further her work in studies of professional development. She has initiated a second study examining physical therapy students’ conceptions of the practice of physical therapy and their role in relation to their patients.
In her spare time, Sarah enjoys swimming, biking, and running, and has a passion for dark chocolate.