Document Type (Journals)

Educational Innovations


The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic changed life across the world at an unprecedented speed, in ways that were unimaginable prior to March 2020. As ‘new normals’ emerge, the impact on everyday life is being realized and some rapid innovations are worthy of review and retaining, such as an occupational therapy student virtual Placement Replacement Module (PRM). The occupational therapy specific module was developed to replace prohibited face-to-face, practice-based education. It was designed to support the consolidation of professional knowledge and facilitate the application of practice-based skills, crediting the students with 120 practice placement hours, as agreed with the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT). This education innovation, based on a spiral learning approach, delivered over five weeks enabled 30 first year students to engage in a range of on-line placement related activities, incorporating the use of reflective diaries, case-based learning, and simulated practice. The evaluation of student feedback showed that authentic learning activities, immersive feedback, and the opportunity for shared learning can facilitate the consolidation of academic knowledge. In particular, it can help develop professional and therapeutic communication skills and clinical and professional reasoning and build personal and professional confidence. As this is believed to be the first PRM of its kind, the purpose of this paper is to describe the education innovation and share the outcomes that resulted from the student evaluation. Other Higher Education Institutions (HEI) are encouraged to think how similar on-line modules could replace face-to-face occupational therapy placements or be included in knowledge consolidation and preparation for placement.


Rachel Dadswell, PhD, MSC (Mental Health), Dip COT is programme manager of the BSc and MSc courses at the University of Southampton. As an experienced educationalist and past clinical educator, Rachel appreciates that a good student experience is essential to facilitate the consolidation of academic learning into the practice setting.

Belinda Williams, Dip COT works part time as an occupational lecturer and admissions tutor at the University of Southampton and retains a clinical role in adult and older people’s mental health. Working within both education and clinical practice has resulted in a keen interest in collaborative placement experiences that support students integrating theory into practice.

Anita Bowser, MRes, BSc OT, Dip COT combines a part time lecturer role at the University of Southampton with a clinical leadership role within Forensic and CAMHs services. Anita has extensive experience as a clinical educator in mental health and is committed to developing high quality placements.

Fay Hughes, BA (Hons), Pg Dip COT works as an occupational therapy lecturer at the University of Southampton (UoS) and in the community as an independent paediatric occupational therapist. She is an Advanced Sensory Integration Practitioner and has promoted and developed a Sensory Room for educational and clinical practice purposes at the UoS.

Declaration of Interest

The authors report no declarations of interest.

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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.