Aliki Thomas, Ann Bossers, Michael Lee, Rosemary Lysaght; Occupational Therapy Education Research: Results of a National Survey. Am J Occup Ther 2016;70(5):7005230010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.018259
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
OBJECTIVE. Despite a strong tradition of education scholarship in occupational therapy, no systematic evaluation of the amount and nature of research in this arena, or its associated challenges, has been conducted. This study examined the scope and range of education-focused research conducted in Canada and identified perceived supports and barriers for this area of inquiry.
METHOD. An online survey was sent to faculty of all 14 Canadian occupational therapy programs. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize areas of study focus, and qualitative thematic analysis captured respondents’ perceptions of personal and environmental factors influencing their engagement in education research.
RESULTS. Respondents (n = 47) reported engagement in education scholarship spanning more than 20 focus areas, often with limited resources.
CONCLUSION. Strategies are proposed to promote the viability of education research in occupational therapy and to improve resources and other supports for this type of research.
What constitutes “evidence” in HPE (Thistlethwaite et al., 2012),
The relevance of education research in the real world (Regehr, 2010; Yardley, 2014),
The quality and strength of available research evidence (Cook & Beckman, 2010; Norman, 2007), and
The readiness of evidence for implementation in educational settings (Cook, 2012; Wolf, 2000).
to move occupational therapy education forward, it is important that occupational therapy educators not draw only on education research outside the profession. Although that body of research can contribute to an understanding of how best to educate occupational therapy students, it does not meet all the needs for the profession’s education of its future members. . . . The Occupational Therapy Education Research Agenda identifies an array of areas in which research needs to be conducted to inform the preparation of future occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants for successful practice. (p. S84)
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. (p. S1)
What is the current nature of occupational therapy research in education in Canada?
What are the facilitators and barriers to occupational therapy research in education in Canada?
How are occupational therapy researchers disseminating the results of their education research?
Broader research funding, expertise in research methodologies, and institutional support are critical if occupational therapy faculty are to advance the volume and quality of education research.
Strategies within and across universities for interprofessional collaborations could be used to support research activities. Examples of such efforts include forming inter- and intraprofessional working groups on education, establishing standards for tenure and promotion that value education research, and creating support mechanisms, including release time, for nontenured or clinical faculty to engage in education research.
System-level interventions by professional associations and academic programs are suggested to lobby with funding agencies, universities, and regulatory bodies to create funding opportunities to support education research. Such efforts might also encourage cross-institutional and international collaborations to enhance both the scope and innovation of the resulting proposals.
Professional associations could explore the means to create active interest groups focused on education research. This effort would require leadership from education researchers to create viable networks across institutions.
Editorial boards of occupational therapy journals play a vital role in promoting a vibrant and welcoming climate for dissemination of education research. Special issues on education and designated columns related to education research are prime ways to foster growth in this regard.
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