Cynthia Lau; Impact of a Child-Based Health Promotion Service-Learning Project on the Growth of Occupational Therapy Students. Am J Occup Ther 2016;70(5):7005180030. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.021527
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
This phenomenological study revealed the lived experiences of occupational therapy students as they embarked on a semester-long volunteer health promotion service-learning project during their entry-level master’s program. Data analysis extrapolated themes from student journals, transcriptions of pre- and postinterviews, and field notes. Student roles were exemplified by what students wanted to learn, what they actually learned, and the unexpected benefits they experienced. In particular, issues with teaming, interprofessional development, and time management were discovered. The findings add to the growing literature about the benefits of service learning as a teaching strategy and how it facilitates mindfulness of community service, communication, and clinical reasoning of future therapists. Implications for learning and practice are discussed.
What did you learn from your participation in HCFM?
Were these anticipated learning experiences?
Did you bring what you thought you would to the program? Please explain.
Did you have any concerns regarding your participation during HCFM?
Describe your experience.
What would you change about this situation if you were in charge? What have you learned about this agency, these people, or the community?
Was there a moment of failure, success, indecision, doubt, humor, frustration, happiness, sadness?
Do you feel your actions had any impact?
What more needs to be done? Does this experience complement or contrast with what you are learning in class? How?
Has learning through experience taught you more, less, or the same as the class? In what ways? (Center of Service Learning, 2012).
Even though the assigned leader was not ready, we jumped in to help her, despite any slight annoyance, in order to make the day a success for the kiddos. It is a reflection of the importance of team work and client-centeredness in a program like this.
I really enjoyed working with the DO and [physical therapy] students. I liked telling them what OT has to offer, and it was beneficial to learn more about what we were all learning in regards to child development in our educational program.
They may not be able to pick healthy options in their home environment all the time, but some of the decisions they will make may be influenced by what we have done here, and if anything, the care and attention we have shown them may help them remember that people care about them and the positive choices they make.
Occupational therapy education programs can successfully integrate health promotion and obesity prevention concepts using experiential learning experiences within a service-learning model.
Service learning is a viable pedagogical option to help students reflect on the clinical, communication, and interpersonal skills they need to improve upon before entering their second-level fieldwork experience.
Occupational therapy education programs can include service-learning opportunities in their educational curricula to benefit the interprofessional teaming and time management skills of future therapists working in a variety of practice settings.
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