Program Curriculum Design Statement
The Occupational Therapy Program faculty plan, implement, and systematically evaluate the OTD curriculum using four major organizing themes. These curricular themes arise from a synthesis of the literature and an ongoing, multidimensional program evaluation process. A curriculum is both an artifact which transmits time honored values, beliefs, and principles and a dynamic framework to meet contemporary and future societal and professional needs. This curriculum design, therefore, is the vehicle which guides the faculty and students in operationalizing the Program's Mission and Philosophy.
Theme I: PARADM (pronounced "Paradigm")
The faculty structure the curriculum around four broad goals. Every course and major
learning experience addresses specifically all
four goals. The faculty develop course objectives and learning outcomes based upon
an analysis of the profession's needs, existing standards of
practice and related documents, and program evaluation data received from the curriculum
advisory committee, faculty, students, graduates, and
employers. Using the acronym P-A-R-A-D-M, the curriculum prepares occupational therapists
who are competent, ethical, and committed.
Graduates will demonstrate entry-level proficiencies necessary for occupational therapy practice in a dynamic health care and human services delivery system. Graduates will synthesize advanced knowledge in a chosen practice area through completion of a capstone experience. Graduates will display adaptability in their approach to practice problems and apply multiple models of practice, the Conceptual Framework of Therapeutic Occupation, and contemporary practice skills as needed for a variety of practice settings.
Graduates will demonstrate attitudes and skills which enhance strong personal commitment to the profession's growth and development. Through assumption of leadership roles and facile use of educational resources and technology, graduates effectively promote occupational therapy both within and outside the professional community, advocate for persons with disabilities and those at risk for disabilities, and promote health and wellness of the general population.
Graduates will apply principles of scientific inquiry and research design to the study of therapeutic occupation as related to curricular content. Graduates will interpret research findings to enhance their practices and promote research in the profession at multiple levels including collaboration with independent researchers. Through conducting guided, individualized, scholarly projects, graduates will have taken the first step toward assuming roles of independent researchers.
Autonomous Decision Making
Graduates will demonstrate the ability to make autonomous decisions related to their educational program, professional development, and patient treatment as appropriate to their entry to the profession.
The curriculum is designed to reflect the Conceptual Framework of Therapeutic Occupation (CFTO) which provides a common language for understanding the complexities of occupation (Nelson, 1994; Nelson & Thomas, 2003). Faculty present CFTO early in the curriculum and use it throughout the course of study as a basis for critically analyzing and applying major models of practice in occupational therapy.
Building on Theme II, practice content is organized around major models of practice, sometimes referred to as frames of reference (Kielhofner, 2009). The models of practice courses integrate foundational knowledge from supporting disciplines, theoretical perspectives, relevant research, and occupational therapy practice skills. Using this approach, faculty address contemporary models of practice (e.g. health promotion, wellness paradigms). Students explore explicit, well-developed models and implicit or less formally developed models of practice which provide perspectives on where further conceptualization of models of practice is needed. The faculty designed the model of practice approach to provide graduates with flexibility for addressing wide ranging practice problems and skill in integrating foundational knowledge, theory, practice, and research.
Carefully selected and implemented practica enhance the curriculum's overall integrity (Cohn & Crist, 1995). Faculty, students, and clinical educators collaborate to form a tight educational partnership. Practica progress from fieldwork emphasizing clinical observations in structured settings during the first semester to those experiences in less defined settings later in the curriculum. Students begin by observing and analyzing elements of models of practice and progress to those experiences where they advocate for a model of practice and project occupational therapy's role in less traditional settings. Practica demand increasing levels of student autonomy which culminate in a Capstone Experience, an integration of mentored studies, practical experiences, and professional-level dissemination.
In summary, the UT curriculum design flows from the Program's Mission and Philosophy. It guides the curriculum in the selection, scope, and placement of content. It also provides a mechanism for identifying the critical areas assessed in evaluation of the effectiveness of the curriculum. Ultimately, the curriculum design facilitates the preparation of competent, ethical, and committed occupational therapists.
Cohn, E.S. & Crist, P. (1995). Back to the future: New approaches to fieldwork education. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 49(2), 103-6
Kielhofner, G. (2009). Conceptual Foundations of Occupational Therapy (4th Ed.). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis
Nelson, D.L. (1994) Occupational form, occupational performance, and therapeutic occupation. In C. B. Royeen (Ed.) AOTA self study series: The practice of the future: Putting occupation back into therapy, Lesson 2 (pp.9-48). Rockville, MD; American Occupational Therapy Association.
Nelson, D.L., & Thomas, J.J. (2003). Occupational form, occupational performance, and a conceptual framework for therapeutic occupation. In P. Kramer, J. Hinojosa, & C. Royeen (Eds.), Perspectives on human occupation: Participation in life (pp. 87-155). Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins.