Brief Report
Issue Date: May/June 2020
Published Online: March 28, 2020
Updated: April 30, 2020
Impact of Nontraditional Level I Fieldwork on Critical Thinking
Author Affiliations
  • Sarah Nielsen, PhD, OTR/L, is Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks; sarah.k.nielsen@und.edu
  • Marilyn Klug, PhD, is Associate Professor, Department of Population Health, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.
  • LaVonne Fox, PhD, OTR/L, is Master in Education Instructor/Developer, Turtle Mountain Community College, Belcourt, ND.
Article Information
Education of OTs and OTAs / Columns: Brief Report
Brief Report   |   March 28, 2020
Impact of Nontraditional Level I Fieldwork on Critical Thinking
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, March 2020, Vol. 74, 7403345010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.036350
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, March 2020, Vol. 74, 7403345010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.036350
Abstract

Importance: Level I fieldwork is an integral part of occupational therapy education, yet limited research exists on how it affects the development of critical thinking skills.

Objective: To compare the influence of a nontraditional Level I fieldwork experience with that of a traditional Level I fieldwork experience on the development of critical thinking.

Design: Nonrandomized, pretest–posttest design.

Setting: Traditional and nontraditional Level I fieldwork.

Participants: Seventy-three fourth-semester Master of Occupational Therapy students enrolled in a physical disabilities or psychosocial Level I fieldwork course. Each group completed the Health Sciences Reasoning Test (HSRT) at the beginning and end of each semester.

Intervention: Sixteen-week nontraditional fieldwork or two 1-wk traditional fieldworks.

Outcomes and Measures: HSRT.

Results: All students showed a significant increase in scores on the Analysis subtest of the HSRT (p = .004). Both Analysis (p = .001) and overall HSRT (p = .025) scores improved significantly for 55 students who completed nontraditional fieldwork. Students who completed nontraditional fieldwork and had taken multiple previous science classes (p = .014) and had a higher grade point average (p = .033) had a greater likelihood of improving their HSRT score.

Conclusion and Relevance: Although in this pilot study both Level I traditional and nontraditional fieldwork improved critical thinking, further development and examination of pedagogical approaches that facilitate critical thinking are needed.

What This Article Adds: Both traditional and nontraditional Level I fieldwork can improve occupational therapy students’ critical thinking skills.