Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


Academic programs commonly face challenges in developing Level I fieldwork where students have ample opportunity to practice and understand occupation. In response to this challenge, our academic program developed a non-traditional Level I fieldwork. The purpose of this study was to understand the student perceptions of this learning experience. Focus group methodology was employed. Fifty-nine students participated in one of six focus groups. Six themes were identified through the data analysis process. These included challenges and rewards of effective communication, learning to think like an OT, a greater understanding and focus on occupations, developing skills in cultural understanding and advocacy, gaining confidence through doing, and the logistical challenges of getting everyone on the same page. These themes supported that students viewed non-traditional Level I fieldwork paired with structured classroom learning activities positively. A pattern across all themes was that students learned because they were able to make mistakes, reflect on them, and change their action. Limitations include that student perceptions are only one aspect of understanding the impact of learning experiences; therefore further study is needed.


The authors are faculty members at the University of North Dakota. Sarah Nielsen, PhD, OTR/L and LaVonne Fox, PhD, OTR/L teach the mental health level I fieldwork course. Debra Hanson, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA and Cherie Graves, MOT, OTR/L are the Academic Fieldwork Coordinators for the program. Janet S. Jedlicka, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA is Program Director.

Declaration of Interest

The authors report no declarations of interest.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.