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Editorial
Issue Date: September 01, 2014
Published Online: October 23, 2014
Updated: January 01, 2019
A Systematic Focus on Occupational Therapy Education
Author Affiliations
  • Janice P. Burke, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Dean, Jefferson School of Health Professions, and Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Thomas Jefferson University, 901 Walnut Street, Sixth Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107; Janice.Burke@jefferson.edu
  • Neil Harvison, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Chief Academic and Scientific Affairs Officer, American Occupational Therapy Association, Bethesda, MD; nharvison@aota.org
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Geriatrics/Productive Aging / Education of OTs and OTAs / Multidisciplinary Practice / Neurologic Conditions / Professional Issues / From the Desk of the Guest Editors
Editorial   |   September 01, 2014
A Systematic Focus on Occupational Therapy Education
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September/October 2014, Vol. 68, S1-S2. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.685S07
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September/October 2014, Vol. 68, S1-S2. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.685S07
This supplemental issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy represents the beginning of a systematic focus on the teaching practices that are currently used in academic and clinical environments as we go about the job of preparing students for careers as occupational therapy assistants and occupational therapists. The journal celebrates two major accomplishments in the practice of education: (1) the establishment of a research agenda for education and (2) the first American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Education Summit, sponsored by AOTA and the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and held in Atlanta, Georgia, in October 2013. The summit brought together educational leaders from across the United States and provides a benchmark for the state of the art of occupational therapy education. These two interconnected outcomes formalize a mature approach to our educational enterprise as it previews the range of educational research that is currently being conducted and outlines a wider view as to the work that must be done as we move forward in education.
Janice P. Burke, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
Neil Harvison, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
This issue of the journal is a milestone for educators and acknowledges the important questions facing our educational system: What educational methods are most effective in occupational therapy education? Are there methods that are distinct and unique to occupational therapy education (signature pedagogies)? How do we teach the technical skills that students must have to work with patients? What are the most effective and efficient educational practices to achieve the desired results? What does interprofessional education mean for occupational therapy? How are occupational therapy students changed by the educational experience? How are students from complementary professions changed when they learn with occupational therapists? What is the most effective use of simulation and standardized patient encounters? What are the costs and benefits of our varying educational methods?
As the profession focuses on advancing practice, documenting intervention, and measuring outcomes, we are also recognizing the importance of these strategies in advancing and analyzing our work in education. Just as clinical managers have focused on productivity and accountability, university and college administrators are now asking for outcomes demonstrating the most efficient and cost-effective methods for teaching students. Research on occupational therapy education must prepare educators to articulate a clear understanding of the kinds of learning environments and teaching methods that best support skill development and ways of knowing in occupational therapy. Through the development of research evidence, we are able to provide answers to support the practice of occupational therapy education.
Traditionally, occupational therapy faculty backgrounds vary with regard to the specific skills they bring to the classroom and clinic. Faculty may enter academia as experts in neurology, orthopedics, mental health, gerontology, or autism, to name a few. Similarly, they may have advanced degrees and training in research or educational (philosophy and) methods. In all cases, the common thread that unites them is their passion for teaching and their interest in the learning process. They confront themselves and their colleagues on a daily basis, asking, What is the most effective design for the curriculum? What will be an effective strategy to teach this specific content, measure learning outcomes, and provide effective advising? Is simulation an effective teaching method for developing clinical competencies? What technological strategies can assist students in learning? Should we be teaching students using small groups, simulations, online learning, and flipped classrooms? What is the value of written papers compared with poster and oral presentations in reflecting certain kinds of knowledge? This supplemental issue of the journal focusing on topics in education is an attempt to answer some of these and other questions facing occupational therapy education.
This issue contains a selection of articles that speak to the state of the art in education across three broad topic areas: (1) pedagogy and instructional design, (2) foundations of occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant education and practice, and (3) capacity building with the profession and academia. These articles promise to stimulate dialogue among academic and clinical educators and serve as a benchmark for an active and productive focus on education practices, outcomes, and the development of innovative models for teaching and learning.
We thank the many individuals, volunteer work groups in AOTA, faculty respondents to surveys, and task force and committee members who have contributed over the years to the culmination of the 2013 Inaugural Education Summit and the development of the research agenda for education.
Janice P. Burke, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
Neil Harvison, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA