Date Presented 04/22/2023

This study examined factors influencing OTD students’ self-efficacy for the doctoral capstone experience (DCE). Analysis of journals and interviews resulted in themes regarding students’ relationship with their site mentor and factors influencing their efficacy beliefs on the DCE.

Primary Author and Speaker: Ann Cook

The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine how the mentorship relationship between the occupational therapy doctoral student and the doctoral capstone site mentor influences the students’ self-efficacy for the Doctoral Capstone Experience (DCE). With increasing numbers of occupational therapy programs transitioning to the entry-level doctoral degree, clinicians who may serve as site mentors during the 14-week, in-depth experience need to better understand factors impacting students’ efficacy beliefs. Doctoral students enrolled in an entry-level occupational therapy doctoral program were recruited via email to participate in the study. Six students consented to participate and completed regular reflective journals throughout the DCE as well as semi-structured phone interviews at the conclusion of the DCE. Students answered questions regarding their overall experience as well as their relationship with their site mentor. Qualitative data were analyzed through individual case studies and coding for themes. Qualitative analysis resulted in six case studies that provide a holistic picture of various mentor-mentee relationships as well as six themes regarding the mentoring relationship and other factors that influenced students’ efficacy beliefs. Each theme is discussed in relation to the concept of self-efficacy. Conclusions from the themes make it clear that the student’s relationship with the site mentor is extremely impactful to their self-efficacy. Impacting factors included style and consistency of communication between the mentor and student, the provision of constructive feedback from the mentor, the level of collaboration between the student and mentor, and the mentor’s level of concern for the student’s experience and their learning. This study highlights implications for clinicians who may mentor doctoral capstone students and offers tools and actionable steps to help foster student self-efficacy during their capstone experience.


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