Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


Occupation-centered course design allows occupational therapy (OT) educators to differentiate ourselves from other professions while communicating the distinct value of occupation to our students. While there have been numerous calls to action for centering occupation in the OT classroom and proposed models to approach course design, there is limited literature on occupation-centered course design in specific courses, notably foundational science courses like anatomy and applied biomechanics. In this study, we outline our course design process in two courses taught concurrently, as well as our prospective study to determine if an occupation-centered course design allowed students to meet objectives and the effect of undergraduate preparation on objective achievement. We also explored students’ agreement with importance of occupation-centered instruction, and our ability to stay occupation-centered. Fifty-five students completed pre and post course surveys rating their ability to perform the five objectives for each course and their level of agreement about the role of occupation in these courses. We found statistically significant increases in all objective ratings, with some ratings more than doubling. Post-course ratings among students with different undergraduate backgrounds were similar despite being statistically different at baseline. Students placed high value in occupation-centered course design at both time points. Students rated the ability to stay occupation-centered lowest in the first few weeks, with Anatomy rated lower than Applied Biomechanics in all weeks. This suggests that the incremental improvements made in the course delivery were effective; however, it was more challenging to create an occupation-centered course in Anatomy.


Rose McAndrew, OTD, OTR/L, CHT is a clinician-scientist and OT instructor. She has a keen interest in occupation-centered practice as a clinician and in course design as an educator.

Vicki Kaskutas, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA is an Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy and Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine Program in Occupational Therapy. She has over 40 years experience as an occupational therapist.

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.