Understanding and optimising support resources to facilitate CALD student and supervisor allied health fieldwork experiences

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Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

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Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

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Although fieldwork supervisors and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) students can experience challenges during allied health placements, there is little holistic understanding of how they view and use support resources to address these challenges. This study sought to identify, codify, and map the perceived value attached to support resources used or sought by CALD students and fieldwork supervisors and to ascertain areas where they could be optimised and better presented to users.


We conducted a thematic analysis to examine interview and open-ended survey responses from CALD students (n = 18) and fieldwork supervisors (n = 161) respectively.


The six generated themes depicted different patterns of perceived value in university and non-university support resources and spanned three levels of specificity: general, discipline-contextualised, and individualised. Fieldwork supervisors valued a staged approach to support resource design and use for CALD students commencing with general level resources to build foundational language skills and socio-cultural familiarisation and moving on to include disciple-contextualised supports, preplacement mechanisms to monitor student readiness, and formalised mechanisms to enable tailoring of placements. CALD students, however, often undervalued institutional general resources relative to discipline-contextualised resources. The commonality of support resources valued and sought by supervisors from different fields suggests they could be optimised for delivery via an inter-professional community of practice.


Identifying and mapping the perceived value attached to support resources provides actionable insights into how to enhance the ‘fit’ between resources and user needs. Drawing the often-fragmented support resources into a cohesive ecosystem focused around perceived value at different levels of specificity allows CALD students and educators to better conceptualise the types of benefits that can accrue from taking a broader and staged approach to fieldwork placement preparations. Knowing this ecosystem encapsulates what prior uses find of value may enhance perceptions of resource relevance in the minds of new users.

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