Document Type (Journals)
The use of theory to guide practice is what distinguishes an occupational therapist’s professional judgment and reasoning from simply technical skills. However, occupational therapists continue to lack confidence and skills in understanding application of theory to inform practice. Thus, effective course design related to theory is imperative in professional formation. This study assessed the effectiveness of a graduate-level occupational therapy theory course redesigned using andragogical, learner-centered, and active learning principles to address gaps in applying and understanding theory. A mixed methods retrospective cohort design was utilized. This included a pretest/post-test survey along with end-of-semester course and instructor evaluation. Eighty-four students engaged in the course and completed pre/post-testing and end of course evaluations. Course and instructor evaluations from an original (pre-redesign) cohort of 28 students were used for comparison. Results suggest that the course redesign was effective at helping students understand and apply occupational therapy theory in a real-world context while also being able to articulate the importance of theory-guided practice. Instructors should structure theory coursework around andragogical, learner-centered, and active learning principles to improve engagement and interaction with theoretical concepts. Results of this study can inform instructors in best practices and student preferences when instructing theory-related coursework and how to create learning opportunities which have distinct value in creating occupational therapy practitioners who are confident in utilizing theory to inform practice decisions.
Mackenzie Feldhacker, OTD, OTR/L, CLT-LANA is an Assistant Professor at the University of South Dakota. Dr. Feldhacker’s research interests includes scholarship of teaching and learning and the unique contribution of occupational therapy to interprofessional programs and specializations.
Diana Feldhacker, OTD, OTR/L, BCPR is the Founding Program Director and Department Chair in Occupational Therapy at Des Moines University. Dr. Feldhacker’s research focus includes scholarship of teaching and learning and physical rehabilitation practice across the lifespan.
Declaration of Interest
The authors report no declarations of interest.
Feldhacker, M. L., & Feldhacker, D. R. (2022). Active Learning and Occupational Therapy Theory: A Mixed Methods Study of a Course Redesign. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 6 (4). https://doi.org/10.26681/jote.2022.060403
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