Title

Occupational Justice Informed by Service Learning in Undergraduate Occupational Science Students

Start Time

16-10-2009 3:30 PM

End Time

16-10-2009 5:00 PM

Abstract

In the past ten years, several undergraduate programs in occupational science have been developed in the United States. These programs have diverse curriculums and pedagogical approaches that inform undergraduate students in the basic science of occupation and the relationship of occupation and health. Occupational science concepts developed over the same period include occupational justice and injustice. Townsend and Wilcock described occupational justice as “recognizing and providing for the occupational needs of individuals and communities as part of a fair and empowering society” and that “occupational justice can be described as the equitable opportunity and resources to enable people's engagement in meaningful occupations”. Educators face challenges in student learning of these concepts. To meet this challenge, one instructional strategy used is service learning which presents students with the opportunity to engage in community service activities with intentional academic and learning goals and opportunities for reflection that connect to their academic discipline. This paper presents a study of the impact of service learning on the understanding and synthesis of occupational justice and injustice concepts by undergraduate occupational science students. Service learning was a collaborative component across three occupational science courses taught in the second semester, junior year. Student participant observation was embedded in the experience with older adults and individuals with disabilities in urban underserved community settings. Data was collected from 35 students through course evaluations, papers, and transcriptions of class service learning debriefings. Qualitative coding was completed by three course instructors to analyze the data. Preliminary results identified high recognition by students of individuals at risk for occupational injustice. Learning themes included: 1) identifying and relating to individuals who experienced occupational deprivation, imbalance and marginalization; and recognizing 2) the value of participation in meaningful occupations to facilitate health and well being, 3) the need for adaptation, action, and advocacy by students and others to facilitate change for occupational justice in individuals, agencies, and communities, 4) the power of situational learning through relationships and communities of practice to generate knowledge. These results will help educators facilitate the acquisition and synthesis of occupational science concepts in undergraduate occupational science students. This work builds a foundation for the application of occupational justice concepts with individuals in challenging natural environments that facilitates best practice for occupational therapy.

References

Cress, C.M., Collier P.J., & Reitenauer, V.I. & Associates. (2005). Learning through service: A student guidebook for service-learning across the disciplines. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Townsend, E., & Wilcock, A.A. (2004). Occupational justice and client-centered practice: A dialogue in progress. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 77(2), 75-87. Article Access

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Oct 16th, 3:30 PM Oct 16th, 5:00 PM

Occupational Justice Informed by Service Learning in Undergraduate Occupational Science Students

In the past ten years, several undergraduate programs in occupational science have been developed in the United States. These programs have diverse curriculums and pedagogical approaches that inform undergraduate students in the basic science of occupation and the relationship of occupation and health. Occupational science concepts developed over the same period include occupational justice and injustice. Townsend and Wilcock described occupational justice as “recognizing and providing for the occupational needs of individuals and communities as part of a fair and empowering society” and that “occupational justice can be described as the equitable opportunity and resources to enable people's engagement in meaningful occupations”. Educators face challenges in student learning of these concepts. To meet this challenge, one instructional strategy used is service learning which presents students with the opportunity to engage in community service activities with intentional academic and learning goals and opportunities for reflection that connect to their academic discipline. This paper presents a study of the impact of service learning on the understanding and synthesis of occupational justice and injustice concepts by undergraduate occupational science students. Service learning was a collaborative component across three occupational science courses taught in the second semester, junior year. Student participant observation was embedded in the experience with older adults and individuals with disabilities in urban underserved community settings. Data was collected from 35 students through course evaluations, papers, and transcriptions of class service learning debriefings. Qualitative coding was completed by three course instructors to analyze the data. Preliminary results identified high recognition by students of individuals at risk for occupational injustice. Learning themes included: 1) identifying and relating to individuals who experienced occupational deprivation, imbalance and marginalization; and recognizing 2) the value of participation in meaningful occupations to facilitate health and well being, 3) the need for adaptation, action, and advocacy by students and others to facilitate change for occupational justice in individuals, agencies, and communities, 4) the power of situational learning through relationships and communities of practice to generate knowledge. These results will help educators facilitate the acquisition and synthesis of occupational science concepts in undergraduate occupational science students. This work builds a foundation for the application of occupational justice concepts with individuals in challenging natural environments that facilitates best practice for occupational therapy.