Poster Session
Issue Date: July 2015
Published Online: July 01, 2015
Updated: April 30, 2020
Leadership Reflections: A Content Analysis
Author Affiliations
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Nova Southeastern University
Article Information
Education of OTs and OTAs / Professional Issues / Basic Research
Poster Session   |   July 01, 2015
Leadership Reflections: A Content Analysis
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911505123.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911505123.

Date Presented 4/17/2015

This research presents the process and results of a qualitative study exploring student reflections during Level I fieldwork in leadership contexts. Through content analysis, the study examined 20 reflective journals completed by students while on this fieldwork experience.

PURPOSE:The purpose of this study was to assess the outcomes of a Level I leadership fieldwork experience through content analysis of reflective journals. Leadership is an essential aspect of meeting the demands of today’s health care and community arenas (Dunbar, 2009). In a response to the Centennial Vision of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA, 2007), a Professionalism and Leadership course with a Level I fieldwork experience was added to the Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) curriculum. As a part of ongoing curriculum evaluation, assessment of the effectiveness of new initiatives is essential in improving educational experiences. The research question for this study is as follows: Is a Level I leadership fieldwork experience an effective strategy for facilitating student outcomes related to leadership?
RATIONALE:The rationale for this study was to assess the Level I experience as a strategy to achieve student outcomes in leadership content and to address the AOTA/American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF) focus on the scholarship of teaching and learning. This study seeks to add to literature regarding pedagogy and instructional methods—two of the identified areas of need for educational research (AOTA, 2012).
METHOD:The study design was qualitative and used content analysis. This method is utilized to examine text, including written and visual communication, through systematic description of the meaning of text as viewed through a coding frame (Schreier, 2012). For this study, the coding frame dealt with leadership knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Data were from 2nd-yr MOT students who had completed a leadership Level I fieldwork. Two years of data were utilized from students who had completed the coursework and received a grade of 90% or better for the assignment prior to data analysis. Forty-four student journals that met the criteria were de-identified and given a number for coding purposes. Two researchers each randomly chose five journals from each year for a total of 20 journals (10 from each year). To address interrater reliability between the researchers, two additional journals were chosen for preliminary coding in the areas of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Each researcher coded the journals independently and came together to discuss coding; agreement on use of coding was established.
RESULTS:Overall, the analysis of the journals did reveal that many course objectives were addressed through the fieldwork component of the class as per the student’s perspectives. In the area of knowledge and skills, students reflected on opportunities to observe leadership style, skills, and occupations. Journal entries included descriptions of theories, leadership practices, and day-to-day activities of leadership related to their supervisors as well as to themselves. In terms of attitudes regarding leadership, student reflections focused less on this construct than on knowledge and skills. Descriptors—such as surprise, inspiration, confusion, and (at times) disappointment—were evident depending on the context that the student was placed in. This presentation focuses on themes found within the journals as well as researchers’ thoughts on the process and analysis to enable the audience to apply various effective educational strategies.
CONCLUSION:The Level I fieldwork experience does appear to be an appropriate strategy to facilitate student understanding and application of leadership principles and content as a part of their academic program. Use of the reflective journal can be an effective method for evaluating knowledge, skills, and attitudes regarding leadership.
American Occupational Therapy Association. (2007). AOTA’s Centennial Vision and executive summary. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 613–614.
American Occupational Therapy Association. (2012, April). Report on the findings of the survey on scholarship and research in occupational therapy. Retrieved from
Dunbar, S. B. (2009). An occupational perspective on leadership: Theoretical and practical dimensions. Thorofare, NJ: Slack.
Schreier, M. (2012). Qualitative content analysis in practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.