Phase II: A National Study Examining How Occupation is Addressed in Occupational Therapy Curricula
Author(s)Price, Pollie, PhD
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AbstractKey Words: occupational therapy education; teaching occupation; pedagogy To effectively address challenges facing global societies, it is vital that students learn how such challenges intersect with the understanding and application of occupation. Therefore, making occupation explicit in curricula is critical for occupational therapy education (Ashby & Chandler,2010; Turpin et al, 2012; Whiteford & Wilcock, 2001; Yerxa, 1998). Yet, as Wilcock (2005) asserted, occupation has been obscured by other important, but not core, issues such as evidence-based practice and ADL interventions. These distractions cause students to lose the core focus on occupation. Therefore, understanding what educators in one cultural context do to explicitly help students keep that focus is a first-step toward growing global perspectives on keeping occupation at the center of learning. Objective:This research paper is based on a large-scale study in the United States that sought to understand the interrelationship between the discipline of occupational science and the profession of occupational therapy specifically by exploring how the US sector of the profession teaches its novitiates about occupation and occupation’s relationship to health and well-being. Methods. This study used a multi-phase, mixed methods approach to address the study’s objective. Phase I utilized a stratified random sample of all occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant programs in the United States. Data were collected from 25 programs, including in-depth interviews with key informants, videotaped recordings of teaching, and collection of related artifacts or learning materials. Key themes from this phase were: I. Occupation is addressed as a way of seeing; II. Occupation is addressed as a tool for practice; III. Occupation is addressed implicitly and synonymously with other concepts or tools, and is sometimes absent; IV. Occupation is addressed as a significant curricular challenge; V. Occupation is addressed through brilliant experiential learning. Analyses of these data informed Phase II which entailed a survey of all programs in the US. Analysis of the survey data will be conducted in early 2014. Results. Results will be followed by discussion about relevance of findings to educational contexts internationally. Discussion points: 1. Evaluate the assumptions and methods of the study from their own cultural perspectives on occupational therapy education. 2. Discuss and critique implications of the study results for educational practices in different cultural contexts with regard to teaching human occupation.