Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


Occupational therapy (OT) graduate students may demonstrate behaviors in their learning that faculty perceive as unprofessional or resistant. Faculty often attribute these behaviors to personality traits or other qualities residing within the student rather than seeing them as a result of a confluence of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, as Tolman and Kremling proposed in the Integrated Model of Student Resistance (IMSR). This study examined the perceptions of student resistance to learning by surveying OT faculty teaching in entry-level masters and doctoral programs. Participants completed an anonymous, online survey that used a Likert scale rating to collect data about the frequency of active and passive forms of resistance observed in the classroom. Participants also completed open-ended textual questions about what they believed the cause of these behaviors to be. Fifty-one participants completed the survey. We analyzed the data using descriptive statistics and a qualitative analysis of textual responses was conducted. Results showed that OT faculty did encounter behaviors from students that suggested the presence of resistance to learning as described in Tolman and Kremling’s (2017) model. Active and passive behaviors were reported almost equally by participants. Most participants attributed these behaviors to intrinsic factors among students, with few recognizing the role of extrinsic and systemic level factors in causing students to resist learning. While the results of the study affirmed that resistance to learning is present among OT graduate students, OT faculty showed limited awareness of the varied and transactional causes for resistive behaviors. Based on these results, the authors discuss implications for faculty to recognize, prevent, and remediate factors contributing to resistance at the individual, program, and institutional levels. Doing so could better support students and decrease student resistance to learning.


Shruti Gadkari, OTD, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor with the School of Occupational Therapy, Pacific University, OR, where she teaches in the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program. Supporting students’ learning and preparing them for the dynamic nature of clinical OT practice has been central to Dr. Gadkari’s teaching philosophy.

Jeni Dulek, OTD, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor in the School of Occupational Therapy at Pacific University. Dr. Dulek’s teaching practices center on holistic care and concern for students, and include methods that support belonging and mattering, and involve students as partners in their learning and professional growth.

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.