Department of Occupational Therapy Philosophy of Learning
Learning is an active process that occurs through intentionally designed meaningful experiences and reflection. Embracing the University values of compassion, justice, and excellence the Department of Occupational Therapy has adopted Service-Learning as its educational foundation. “Service-learning is a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and development” (Jacoby, 1996, p. 5). It connects faculty, students, and community partners in a collaborative, long-term relationship through a balance of service and learning outcomes.
The Department of Occupational Therapy has a history of community service and continues strive to achieve Mission-Focused Learning in our curriculum founded in community-engaged scholarship. Through service-learning students will take the skills they are taught in the classroom and apply them in an authentic context thus engaging their learning. We have developed 7 service-learning classes. The service-learning experiences will align with the practice area emphasized that quarter (ie, orthopedic, neurological, behavioral health, infant children & youth, general medicine, or professional practice). Our department currently collaborates with several community partners such as Option House, Inc., Inspire for Girls, and Altus Academy who we will use for all of our service-learning experiences. We believe this will show a commitment and consistency with our partners. Students will have specific learning objectives for their service-learning experiences. Through these academic learning experiences students will explore and apply faith, service, and whole-person care while working with clients and communities. Structured reflection will nurture personal and professional growth resulting in transformative learning.
This prepares our students to engage in emerging practice settings where they will be required to use leadership skills as they conduct needs assessments, develop programs and assess for outcomes and sustainability. Emerging practices for our Department include areas such as domestic violence, obesity in youth, at-risk children, foster care, and lifestyle medicine.
At different aspects in the program the experiences will foster critical thinking, creative thinking, and practical/applied thinking (Doll, 2011; Fink, 2003). In critical thinking students will compare, analyze, and evaluate. Creative thinking will allow students to design innovative programs and bring new perspectives and approaches to various practice settings. This will be done through the service-learning projects and class assignments. Practical/applied thinking then takes students to a higher level as they engage in evidence-based practice, problem-solving, and decision-making.
The Department of Occupational Therapy aims to provide an engaged learning experience grounded in service to communities, critical analysis, and leadership. Embracing the work of philosopher John Dewey (1916) and other learning theorists (Giles & Eyler, 1994; Stanton, Giles, & Cruz, 1999) we believe that people learn through active experiences and deep reflection. With guidance, a service-learning approach fosters the acclimation of values, civic principles, and knowledge transference. This experiential learning involves seeing possibilities in practice through reflection and interpreting evidence to inform professional decisions.
Our curriculum has five threads that reflect the values and mission of the Department as part of Loma Linda University.
1. Transformative nature of occupation
2. Evidence-based practice and research
3. Health, lifestyle, and wellness
5. Advocacy, justice, and civic responsibility
Curriculum design is important in that it impacts “the way we consider, think and talk about teaching and learning” (Stefani, 2009). It is the core that unites the MOT program to the University Mission, the School of Allied Health, our student learning experiences, and the student learning outcomes.
The Department of Occupational Therapy views learning as a growing process integrated in service and leading to competent, service-oriented, leaders and practitioners. The Global Model of Learning reflects our curricular design.
The Global Model of Learning reflects the dynamic development of knowledge and competence transforming students into occupational therapists working in an ever changing health care environment. We believe learning is a growing process building that strengthens with each class, each quarter in the areas of service-learning, practice, and research. The Global Model of Learning is interwoven at all levels of learning, ultimately promoting the transformation of the individual from student to entry-level practitioner.
The model consists of a highly finished wood base, 3 gold-capped pillars, 3 gold support rings and a crystal globe. The symbolic meanings are described below:
The 3 pillars grounded in our faith form our foundation. The Service-Learning pillar fosters experiences of service with our community partners where students provide education on health, wellness, quality of life; and advocate for client rights and justice. This meets our Curricular Threads of:
The Practice pillar involves our courses which are organized by areas of practice. This allows students to learn about disorders, interventions, and professional skills for that particular area. Believing that skills and values related to the practice of behavioral and mental health are at the core of every practice area, we have placed this at the beginning of the student’s learning experience so that these skills can be built upon as they continue to move into the other practice areas.
The Research pillar consists of a series of classes called Critical Inquiry and Evidence-based Practice. Students begin by learning how to read research articles and then how to ask critical questions to determine best practice. They engage in evidence-based practice assignments related to the practice content of that particular quarter. Students then complete group research guided by faculty research agendas.
Learning is an active process that occurs through intentionally designed meaningful experiences and reflection. Students learn through application of knowledge. To facilitate this, we organized our courses by practice settings: orthopedic, neurological, behavioral health, infants, children and youth, general medicine, and professional practice. Students are immersed in each of these areas over different quarters. Curricular threads including the transformative nature of occupation, evidence-based practice and research, health, lifestyle, and wellness, service-learning, and advocacy, justice, and civic responsibility, are woven through each of the practice settings facilitating a wholistic view of the client and practice. The interweaving of the curricular threads is represented in the continuous rotation of the globe.
1. Articulate history of the profession and transformative nature of occupation.
“Articulate an understanding of the importance of the history and philosophical base of the profession of occupational therapy” (B.2.1) using occupation as the therapeutic basis of transformation and meaning.
2. Health & Wellness
Describe “the importance of balancing areas of occupation with the achievement of health and wellness for the clients” (B.2.4) in a wholistic perspective.
3. Occupational Therapy Practice
Demonstrate competency in design of “occupation-based intervention plans and strategies (including goals and methods to achieve them) on the basis of the stated needs of the client as well as data gathered during the evaluation process in collaboration with the client and” other health professionals. (B.5.1).
4. Occupational Justice
“Discuss and justify the varied roles of the occupational therapist as a practitioner, educator, researcher, consultant, and entrepreneur” (B.9.7) and how they promote occupational justice by integrating principles of health, lifestyle, and wellness in collaboration with persons and communities.
5. Evidence based practice (EBP)
“Use scholarly literature to make evidence-based decisions” (B.8.3).