Occupational therapy (OT) education in the Eastern Michigan University OT Program prepares students to become occupational therapists who: are grounded in the understanding of human occupation; are competent, ethical, and client-centered in their practice, demonstrate reflective and flexible thinking in order to respectfully engage with diverse individuals, communities, and populations; and critically seek and apply evidence to their practice. This is accomplished through our academic coursework and fieldwork experience. To carry out our educational goals, we collectively hold beliefs, as discussed below.
Grounded in the profession of occupational therapy, OT education reflects the profession's vision, values, beliefs, and theories. Occupation is viewed as a basic human need that is complex and dynamic. Through engagement in occupation, individuals, groups, and communities can maintain a sense of who they are and develop a sense of who they wish to become. Students are seen as occupational beings, engaging with the learning context and teaching-learning process in order to become OT professionals. Our beliefs about OT education draw largely from adult learning theories. In this, we believe:
We believe that educators are role models as OT professionals, practicing scholars, and change agents. To facilitate learning, educators create safe environments for students to take risks, self-discover, and build competence and confidence. To do this, the educator shares power with students and acts as a fellow learner, facilitator, and mentor while scaffolding learning to foster a zone of proximal development (i.e. "just right challenge") (Vygotsky, 1978). In addition, we believe educators can take on various forms, including peers, teachers, professionals, and consumers of OT services.
We believe that student learners are active participants in the education process, demonstrating engagement, preparedness, flexibility, reflective thinking, and respect for teachers and other learners. In addition, we feel that students develop critical thinking through striving to both give and receive thoughtful feedback. Furthermore, we believe that students and teachers engage in a reciprocal relationship, co-creating knowledge and partnering with one another, in the process of learning.
We believe that our learning environment should reflect our professional environment and afford opportunities for engaging in occupation. Physically, spaces should support and encourage experiential learning, the "doing" of occupation within real contexts, including the design and arrangement of objects and tools, availability of resources and materials, and technology to develop critical thinking. Socially, environments should allow for meaningful interactions between all learners (students, teachers, and experts). Temporally, spaces should be flexible to meet the needs of various users and amenable to change as practice evolves. Culturally, spaces should afford students opportunities to understand diversity, value inclusion, and recognize inequities that exist in accessing services and resources. Furthermore, we recognize that learning does not begin and end in our classroom space but extends beyond our walls to the broader community.
Brookfield, S. (2005). The power of critical theory. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Brookfield, S. (2006). The skillful teacher: On technique, trust and responsiveness in the classroom (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Hooper, B. (2007). Shortening the distance between the "I" and the "it": A transformative approach to improving learning. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 21, 199-215.
Knowles, M.S. (1980). The modern practice of adult education: From pedagogy to andragogy (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge Books.
Knowles, M.S. & Associates. (1984). Andragogy in action: Applying modern principles of adult learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S. & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Schön, D.A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York, NY: Basic Books, Inc.
Shor, I. (1992). Empowering education: Critical teaching for social change. Chicago, IL; The University of Chicago Press.
Vygotsky, L.S. (1987). Mind in Society: The Development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.