Date Presented 04/22/2023

This mixed-methods study explored knowledge, use, outcomes, and barriers encountered by OT and OTA faculty using active learning methods. Results indicated improved student preparedness, engagement, and reasoning for transitioning to clinical practice.

Primary Author and Speaker: Heidi N. Robertson

Additional Authors and Speakers: Erin Westover

The study purpose was to explore faculty perceptions of active learning in occupational therapy (OT) and occupational therapy assistant (OTA) education. Investigators sought to understand faculty knowledge, use of strategies in relation to course type, impact on student learners, and barriers to use of active learning strategies. Researchers developed a mixed method electronic survey, released to US OT/OTA faculty through publicly available email. The investigator-developed survey collected demographic information, and information to help develop an understanding of the types of OT courses active learning was used in, and the types of active learning used in OT education. The survey was completed by 311 US OT/OTA faculty members. Data analysis was completed using Qualtrics statistical analysis tools for descriptive statistics, and textual analysis of open-ended questions. Results revealed that active learning strategies were most frequently used in courses related to adult rehabilitation (90.39%) followed by theory or foundation courses (90.24%) and in pediatric courses (89.22%). Further information identified positive impact on the student learner including improvements in engagement and participation in classes (95%), preparedness (82%), and clinical reasoning skills. Barriers to implementation included worry about not having the time to employ active learning and cover all content (n=142) followed by limited time to redesign courses (n=99). Participants identified limitations to use were also encountered with lack of student motivation and engagement in active participation. This study provided knowledge about how and what active learning strategies are being used by OT/OTA faculty, changes/improvements identified, and barriers that limit or prevent faculty from using. This affords faculty the opportunity to further understand the impact of active learning strategies within OT/OTA educational programs


American Occupational Therapy Association. (2018). Philosophy of occupational therapy education. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72(Suppl. 2), 7212410070.

Bethea, D. P., Castillo, D. C., & Harvison, N. (2014). Use of simulation in occupational therapy education: Way of the future? American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68, S32–S39.

Harris, N. & Welch Bacon, C. E. (2019). Developing cognitive skills through active learning: A systematic review of health care professions. Athletic Training Education Journal, 14(2), 135–148.

Henderson, W., Coppard, B., & Qi, Y. (2017). Identifying instructional methods for development of clinical reasoning in entry- level occupational therapy education: A mixed methods design. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 1(2). 10.26681/jote.2017.010201