Date Presented 04/01/2022

This poster explores the impact of virtual and in-person peer mentoring during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic on entry-level OT graduate students. The poster presentation will discuss the results of qualitative data analysis, reflect on student experiences and the usefulness and effectiveness of course-based peer mentoring as a pedagogical tool in entry-level curricula, and consider ways to use this knowledge to enhance education and professional development of OT students.

Primary Author and Speaker: Lauren Stone Kelly

INTRO: “Active, relational and contextualized pedagogies” are integral parts of successful and meaningful occupational therapy curricula (Krishnagiri et al., 2019). As instructional designs evolve, and technology and distance learning components become more prevalent in entry-level and post-professional OT programs, educators are tasked with developing creative and new ways to engage students and effectively teach the core and essential skills. As we adjusted to changes in daily routines, communication and interaction patterns, and instructional strategies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for evidence supported high-impact instructional strategies became even greater to maintain active and relational engagement with and among students. Mentoring has been shown to be effective for development of many foundational and cornerstone skills of OT practice including leadership, professionalism, collaboration, and self-reflection (Doyle, Gafni Lachter, & Jacobs, 2019; Gafni Lachter & Ruland, 2018; Jacobs, Doyle & Ryan, 2015). Peer-mentoring (PM) has also been shown to improve academic achievement, retention, academic self-efficacy, satisfaction, communication skills, time management, as well as providing students psychosocial support resulting in enhanced personal satisfaction and well-being. Recent research within OT educational programs also supports PM as a means to enhance clinical skill development and clinical learning in both in-person and e-learning environments (Gafni Lachter & Ruland, 2018; Jacobs, Doyle & Ryan, 2015). However, there is a need for further evaluation and research on PM programs and programmatic structures and methods for implementing mentoring within OT curriculum (Doyle, Gafni Lachter, & Jacobs, 2019).

PURPOSE: This study is a retrospective qualitative evaluation of the implementation of a piloted course-based PM program as an instructional strategy with entry-level MOT students. The program aimed to improve collaborative and communication skills, leadership, relationship building and clinical readiness. Secondarily, this study compares experiences across the 3 unique and distinct contextual phases of classroom-based instruction: P1) blended instruction initiated pre-pandemic (COVID-19), ending mid-pandemic; P2) online lecture instruction initiated/ending mid-pandemic; and P3) on-campus lab-based instruction initiated mid-pandemic nearing potential inter-pandemic period.

METHOD: Students were assigned to PM pairs during three consecutive semesters of instruction during courses taught by the lead investigator. Students were assigned to complete graded collaborative learning activities as part of regular instruction and course requirements during each of the 3 semesters. Partnerships were varied each semester when able, though COVID-19 restrictions limited pairings during P3. At the end of each semester, students were assigned an individual graded narrative review of the peer mentor experience that was graded on completion only and not on content. All students who submitted the review received full credit. Total point value accounted for <1% of the students’ overall course grade. Students provided informed consent after completion of the 3rd semester to avoid influencing responses in subsequent semesters per the guiding advice of the IRB chair. Qualitative data analysis occurred following P3 via coding and themed analysis of content from each semester.

RESULTS/DISCUSSION: Results show positive impact of the PM program on relationship building, collaborative and communication skills, clinical knowledge and clinical reasoning, and in preparing students for clinical settings. This poster will also discuss the usefulness/effectiveness of course-based PM as a pedagogical tool in entry-level curricula based on the results of student experience.


Krishnagiri, S., Hooper, B., Price, P., Taff, S.D., & Bilics, A. (2019). A national survey of learning activities and instructional strategies used to teach occupation: Implications for signature pedagogies. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 73 (3), 7305205080p1-p11.

Doyle, N.W., Gafni Lachter, L., & Jacobs, K. (2019). Scoping review of mentoring research in the occupational therapy literature 2002-2018. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 66(5), 541-551.

Gafni Lachter, L.R. & Ruland, J.P. (2018). Enhancing leadership and relationships by implementing a peer mentoring program. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 65(4), 276-284.

Jacobs, K., Doyle, N., & Ryan, C. (2015). The nature, perception, and impact of e-mentoring on post-professional occupational therapy doctoral students. Occupational Therapy Health Care, 29(2), 201-213.