Research Article
Issue Date: March/April 2021
Published Online: February 22, 2021
Updated: February 22, 2021
Toward Robust Assessments of Student Knowledge of Occupation
Author Affiliations
  • Pollie Price, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Occupational and Recreational Therapies, and Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program Director, College of Health, University of Utah, Salt Lake City;
  • Barb Hooper, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, is Program Director and Division Chief, Occupational Therapy Doctorate Division, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC. At the time of the study, Hooper was Academic Program Director and Director, Colorado State University Center for Occupational Education, Fort Collins
  • Sheama Krishnagiri, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Institutional Review Board Administrator, Greater Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, Los Angeles, CA
  • Wendy Wood, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Professor, Departments of Animal Sciences and Occupational Therapy, and Director of Research, Temple Grandin Equine Center, Colorado State University, Fort Collins
  • Stephen D. Taff, PhD, OTR/L, FNAP, FAOTA, is Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy and Medicine, Program in Occupational Therapy, and Director, Teaching Scholars Program, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
  • Andrea Bilics, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, is Emeritus Professor, Occupational Therapy Department, Worcester State University, Worcester, MA
Article Information
Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 22, 2021
Toward Robust Assessments of Student Knowledge of Occupation
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, February 2021, Vol. 75, 7502205120.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, February 2021, Vol. 75, 7502205120.

Importance: Occupational therapy students must master knowledge of occupation, yet how educators assess such knowledge has not been explored. In this study, we elucidate robust assessment practices that can help students master knowledge of occupation.

Objective: To examine practices that educators use to assess knowledge of occupation.

Design: Basic qualitative research. Using inductive and constant comparative methods, we coded 25 interviews and 82 educational artifacts for assessment practices, categorized practices as direct or indirect, and analyzed their alignments with features of robust assessments.

Setting: Twenty-five randomly selected occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant academic programs in the United States, stratified by geographic region and institution type.

Participants: Twenty-nine educators who represented selected programs.

Results: We found occupation at instruction and program levels primarily in relation to practice using indirect more than direct practices. Assignments were often highly creative and experiential, yet varied in their alignments with established criteria of robust assessments.

Conclusions and Relevance: Knowledge of occupation was often intertwined with practice-oriented learning experiences and skills; hence, it was not assessed as a distinctly indispensable learning outcome. Educators can build on current practices to design robust assessments that require students to demonstrate knowledge of occupation in practice contexts and everyday life.

What This Article Adds: In this study, we elucidate a continuum of prevalent educational practices used to assess knowledge of occupation; we also review best practices for robust assessments of such knowledge not only related to practice but also as a dynamic instrument of individual and societal well-being more broadly.