Explicit or Hidden? Exploring How Occupation Is Taught in Occupational Therapy Curricula in the United States

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE. Occupation is considered core and threshold knowledge for occupational therapy, yet how it is conveyed through education is not well understood. This study examined how the concept of occupation was taught in occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant curricula in the United States.

METHOD. Using a qualitative descriptive research design, in-depth interviews, video recordings, and artifacts of teaching occupation were collected from 25 programs, chosen using stratified random sampling. Interview data were analyzed using an inductive, constant comparative approach; video and artifact data were analyzed deductively using findings from the interviews.

RESULTS. Instructional methods were innovative and ranged from didactic to experiential. The degree to which occupation was present in instruction ranged from explicit to implicit to absent.

CONCLUSION. Although educators valued teaching occupation, the concept was still elusive in some instructional methods and materials. Occupation knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge may have influenced how explicitly occupation was taught.

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