Research is one of the four major goals of the curriculum. Therefore, research is a component of all courses in the curriculum, and each student independently conducts a research-based scholarly project.
Students learn motion analysis technology for research.
The scholarly project is an individualized learning experience that is truly graduate in character. Faculty engage in a collaborative mentoring relationship with the student. The student assumes responsibility for learning in a self-directed manner without the structure provided by the typical classroom course. There are many options to choose from, both in terms of research topic and in terms of research methodology. The major requirements are that the topic must be relevant to the profession of occupational therapy, that the methodology must be recognized in the literature, and that the faculty mentor can provide guidance in the topic.
Conducting original, meaningful, valid research is a significant challenge for all students. With guidance from a faculty mentor, the student must identify and master the relevant literature in a line of inquiry, and the student must conceptualize a research question or hypothesis that is a logical next step in that line of inquiry. The student must apply principles of research design as documented in reputable sources to the problem or hypothesis under study. Another challenge is that methodological problem-solving often involves apparatus or instruments with which the student has had little prior experience. Next, the student must draw on considerable personal and interpersonal abilities in order to collect the data according to the approved plan. Then the student must use complex tools in the analysis of data. Finally, the student must describe and present the entire project in a professionally appropriate, journal article format. Throughout the process, the student must provide ethical protection for the rights of human subjects, and must be able to participate in a mentoring relationship with the primary advisor. Given the many challenges inherent in the scholarly project, successful completion is a major achievement of which every graduate should be proud.