Date Presented 04/21/2023

The study purpose was to determine students’ perceptions of learning during their 2-year capstone process. Student learning was assessed at three points; statistically significant learning in areas of research, planning, and leadership occurred.

Primary Author and Speaker: Julie A. Bednarski

Additional Authors and Speakers: Annie Laurie DeRolf, Oksana Oleshchuk

Contributing Authors: Tony Chase

PURPOSE: The doctoral capstone experience and project (DCE) is required for the entry-level OTD degree (ACOTE, 2018) however, there are limited studies on learning outcomes (Kiraly-Alvarez et al., 2022). The purpose of this study was to determine student’s perceptions of learning throughout the capstone process. Research Question: What knowledge and skills do OTD students perceive as gained from participation in the doctoral capstone process?

DESIGN: Researchers utilized a quasi-experimental design with a cohort of 34 OTD entry-level students.

METHOD: At three points during a two-year period students completed a 66 question on-line survey, focusing on their perceptions of student learning.

RESULTS: Researchers found statistically significant differences (p<0.05) in four Likert scale questions: I am able to identify occupational needs of my capstone partner, I can adapt knowledge for my capstone context, I can use knowledge to tailor and implement my capstone plan, and I am an effective evidence-based practitioner. Answers to skill development during the experience resulted in statistically significant differences (p<0.05) in ranked research skills and planning skills gained. Most notably, every sub-question under questions focused on leadership development over the past semester resulted in statistically significant differences between pre- and post-DCE collection time points (p<0.05). The findings suggest that participation in the capstone process facilitated knowledge and skills in research and planning, and leadership development. Students also gained knowledge in becoming an effective evidence-based practitioner and using knowledge to design and complete a capstone experience.

CONCLUSION: Kemp et al. (2020) stated that the capstone process needs to be further researched and this study provides at starting point in understanding the student’s perception of their learning throughout the capstone process.


Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education [ACOTE]. (2018). Standards and interpretative guide [PDF]. Retrieved from∼/media/Corporate/Files/EducationCareers/Accredit/StandardsReview/2018-ACOTE-Standards-Interpretive-Guide.pdf

Kemp, E., Domina, A., Delbert, T., Rivera, A., & Navarro-Walker, L. (2020). Development, Implementation and Evaluation of Entry-Level Occupational Therapy Doctoral Capstones: A National Survey. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 4(4).

Kiraly-Alvarez, A. F., Clegg, A., Lucas Molitor, W., & Friberg, D. (2022). An Exploration of the Occupational Therapy Doctoral Capstone: Perspectives from Capstone Coordinators, Graduates, and Site Mentors. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 6(1).