Document Type (Journals)

Educational Innovations


A service-learning pilot project involving occupational therapy (OT) students and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) is described. The purpose of this pilot project, developed using Transformative Learning Theory, was to determine if service-learning could be a viable approach to provide in-depth learning in areas only superficially covered in a typical OT curriculum. The objectives of this experience were focused on developing the knowledge and skills needed to address a noted gap in OT practice, post-secondary transition services for individuals with IDD. Using a peer-mentor approach, OT students were matched with young adults with IDD for a fieldwork Level I experience that continued for nine months. Weekly experiences for the mentees were planned by their mentors who also participated in advocacy on campus to facilitate an environment fostering social inclusiveness. Students engaged in 12 online threaded discussions and participated in a focus group interview one month after the program ended. Data were analyzed to examine the effectiveness of the peer mentor approach in expanding students’ knowledge and perception of their role in transition services. Data revealed increased knowledge of the diverse challenges and strengths of individuals with IDD, increased knowledge of the goals and activities provided by post-secondary transition services, and an understanding of how OT services could contribute to such services. These benefits are exactly those needed to contribute to transition services, demonstrating that, at least for this content area, service-learning is a viable approach to addressing noted gaps in practice.


Annmarie T. Kinsella, OTD is an assistant professor of occupational therapy at Utica College, Utica, NY.

Nancy Robertson Hollins, PhD retired in 2021 from her position as professor of occupational therapy at Utica College, Utica, NY.

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.