As society trends towards increased cultural diversity, the need for cultural competence in the field of occupational therapy (OT) becomes more acute. Immersion in another culture within the curriculum offers the student an opportunity to put their knowledge into practice and recognize the need to competently interact with members of another culture. This study explored the impact of a service learning trip to Haiti, providing seating and mobility services, on all four factors of cultural intelligence (CQ; i.e., metacognitive CQ, cognitive CQ, motivational CQ, behavioral CQ) for occupational therapy doctoral (OTD) students. Using the cultural intelligence scale (CQS), a one-group pretest-posttest design with a paired-samples t-test (α < 0.05) rejected the null hypotheses to support service learning as a pedagogy which enhanced the four factors of CQ for the sample. With increased emphasis on producing culturally sensitive OTD professionals, service learning projects in a cross-cultural setting as a pedagogy extend beyond skill development (e.g., wheelchair fittings) to building coping strategies for interacting with clients (metacognitive CQ), enhancing knowledge of culture (cognitive CQ), persisting to overcome any cultural barriers (motivational CQ), and building the behavioral repertoire (behavioral CQ) of occupational therapists. Contrasting the results from this study with research into the efficacy of short-term study tours, service learning positively impacts behavioral CQ, whereas short-term study tours do not have the same impact. This article details the service learning project and provides recommendations for future research.
Nathan Short, OTD, OTR/L, CHT has a doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Belmont University. He is an assistant professor of Occupational Therapy at Huntington University. Heather Y.Z. St. Peters, PhD has a PhD in Global Leadership in Organizational Management from Indiana Institute of Technology. She is an assistant professor of Organizational Leadership with the Institute for Leadership and Counseling at Huntington University.
Declaration of Interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest and received no compensation of any kind to conduct this study.
Short, N., & St. Peters, H. Y. (2017). Exploring the Impact of Service Learning in Haiti on the Cultural Competence of OTD Students. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 1 (1). https://doi.org/10.26681/jote.2017.010106