Occupational Therapy

Our Mission

The mission of the Department of Occupational Therapy is to foster a community of educators, scholars, evidence-based practitioners, and community leaders in the profession of occupational therapy who will generate, apply, and disseminate innovative knowledge about participation in everyday life for individuals, groups, and populations.

Our Department is committed to the following aims:

  • Educate doctoral level occupational therapists who function as evidence-based practitioners, community leaders, educators, and scholars
  • Engage in scholarly work and participate in scientific inquiry that will discover, generate, develop, refine, test, and evaluate new knowledge as well as applications of knowledge in occupational therapy (Abreu, Peloquin, & Ottenbacher, 1998)
  • Disseminate new and applied knowledge about occupation and health to the academic and broader community
  • Affirm the inalienable right of every individual to feel welcomed, valued, a sense of belonging, and respected while accessing and participating in society, regardless of the internal or external factors that make every individual unique (AOTA, 2020b)

Our Philosophy

Scope of Occupational Therapy

Vision 2025 of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) envisions Occupational Therapy as a profession that focuses on "maximizing health, well-being, and quality of life for all people, populations, and communities through effective solutions that facilitate participation in everyday living," (AOTA, 2017b).

Human Beings and Occupation

Human beings are active individuals whose development is influenced by their participation in meaningful occupations and the context in which these occupations are performed (Law & King, 2000). Human beings have an innate need to engage in meaningful occupations and through occupation can influence their health, well-being, and life satisfaction throughout their lifespans (AOTA, 2020a). "Occupations refer to the everyday activities that people do as individuals, in families, and with communities to occupy time and bring meaning and purpose to life. Occupations include things people need to, want to and are expected to do," (WFOT, 2012 para.2).

Learning Process

The learning philosophy of the Department of Occupational Therapy supports the American Occupational Therapy (AOTA) Philosophy of Education (AOTA, 2018) and Philosophical Base of Occupational Therapy (AOTA, 2017a). The goal of our program is to graduate outstanding doctoral level generalist occupational therapists who use critical thinking to make evidence-based decisions. Using a dynamic transactive process, the program promotes professional and clinical reasoning, critical thinking, and cultural understanding, while integrating the professional values theories, evidence, ethics, and skills of occupational therapy. The curriculum is based on a transactive view of person, context, and occupation, and acknowledges that occupational behavior and environmental influences are integrally related and influence each other (AOTA, 2017; Law et al., 1996).

The transformative learning model (TL) involves learning that changes the way individuals think about themselves and their worlds that involves a shift of consciousness (Hogan, 2016; Mezirow, 2000; Santalucia & Johnson, 2010). Our students engage in TL by way of reflective discourse throughout the course sequences that challenge their assumptions and foster regular investigation of best evidence. TL is accomplished by creating a supportive classroom with a focus on student-centered education, and by providing opportunities to challenge assumptions leading to shifts in thoughts, feelings, actions, and consciousness (Hogan, 2016). Students are provided with in-person, simulated, and virtual experiences and feedback that help them explore alternative perspectives, engage in problem-solving and reflection, and promote autonomy, participation, resiliency, and collaboration. Our program is developed with embedded outreach community activities locally and internationally to enhance overall learning, practice, and scholarship. Students are able to integrate philosophical and theoretical knowledge to demonstrate clinical competencies. These competencies (knowledge and skills) are further established through opportunities to use the Person, Environment, Occupation (PEO) frame of reference in developing services for real and simulated clients, ultimately solidifying professional reasoning (Law et. al., 1996). We realize the need to prepare lifelong learners who consistently utilize new knowledge supporting the use of occupation. Simultaneously, active learning, collaboration, leadership opportunities and self- reflection prepare the students to establish their professional identities as occupational therapists (AOTA, 2018). See the curriculum schematic for a representation of the reaching philosophy unfolding in the curriculum design.

Research and Scholarship

We believe research and scholarship activities will enhance continuous development of our profession and refine clinical practice. Our faculty have a wide range of diverse expertise in both qualitative and quantitative inquiry from large data analysis to community partnerships.

  • Abreu, B, Peloquin, S. & Ottenbacher, K. (1998). Competence in scientific inquiry and research. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 52 (9):751-9. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.52.9.751
  • AOTA. (2020a). Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process Fourth Edition. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 74, Suppl. 2.
  • AOTA. (2020b). Occupational Therapy’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 74. 7413410030. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.74S3002
  • AOTA. (2018) Philosophical Base of Occupational Therapy Education, American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2018.72S201
  • AOTA. (2017a). Philosophical Base of Occupational Therapy, American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2017.716S06
  • AOTA. (2017b). Vision 2025. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71.  https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2017.713002
  • Hogan, C. D. (2016). Transformative learning as metatheory: Definition, criteria, and typology. Adult Education Quarterly, 66 (1), 57-75. https://doi.org/10.1177/0741713615611216
  • Law, M., Cooper, B. A., Strong, S., Stewart, D., Rigby, P., & Letts, L. (1996). The person-environment-occupation model: A transactive approach to occupational performance. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 63, 9-23.
  • Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as Transformation: Critical Perspectives on a Theory in Progress. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
  • Santalucia, S. & Johnson, C. 2010). Transformative learning: Facilitating growth and change through fieldwork. OT Practice 15 (19).
  • WFOT. (2012). About occupational therapy. Retrieved from https://wfot.org/about/about-occupational-therapy

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