Document Type (Journals)

Educational Innovations


Little is understood about best educational strategies to engage diverse occupational therapy students in professional advocacy. The purpose of this research was to use design-based research (DBR) methods to design a novel educational intervention to promote professional engagement of diverse students over three subsequent years. This study used a pre/post design to design, implement, evaluate, and revise an educational program entitled “Student Engagement in Professional Advocacy” (SEPA). This manuscript reports on the first year of that study. The participants (N=27) were entry-level Master of Science occupational therapy students. The outcome measure was a survey measuring student knowledge, attitude, and participation specific to professional advocacy. All participants completed the pre and post surveys and participated in four SEPA educational modules. Significant differences were observed in pre and post scores in knowledge (p < 0.0001), action (p= 0.004), and attitude (p=0.012). This suggests that SEPA was effective at increasing student knowledge of, attitudes toward, and participation in professional advocacy. Pearson correlation of domains revealed a strong positive association between knowledge and attitude (p= 0.0003), actions and attitude (p = 0.0018), and action and knowledge (p=0.0262). This indicates that educational programs promoting professional engagement should address knowledge and attitudes and provide opportunities for participation. Qualitative data provided additional information on how students integrated professional engagement into their identity as students, and practical feedback on how to improve the program. Study findings supported the use of SEPA to promote student professional engagement. Further research is indicated, including conducting additional iterations of the project to continue to refine SEPA.


Jessica Alden, OTD, MA, OT/L is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Howard University. Her research interests focus on addressing health inequities, promoting student engagement in health advocacy, and women’s health.

Lynda Hill, OTD, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Howard University. Her research interests include school-based OT practice, specifically production of written work, assistive technology, and promoting student engagement in OT advocacy.

Felecia Moore Banks, Ph.D., MEd, OTR/L, FAOTA is an Associate Professor (tenured) and Chairperson in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Howard University. She presents with over 30 years of clinical and academic experience with expertise in curriculum development, diversity and research working with at-risk populations and health disparities.

Ronan Connolly, B.Ed, MA is an educational technologist and PhD candidate in the School of Education at National University of Ireland, Galway. His research interests include applying DBR to online learning environments, specifically online minority language communities. He manages the online language learning community, LetsLearnIrish.com

Julius S. Ngwa, Ph.D is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Cardiology, College of Medicine, at Howard University. His research interests focus on biostatistical methods for epidemiologic studies, longitudinal and survival data analysis, and genetic epidemiology.

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.