Title

Research Poster Session - Understanding Interdisciplinarity in Occupational Science

Location

Magnolia Room

Start Time

17-10-2013 6:30 PM

End Time

17-10-2013 8:30 PM

Abstract

Background

In a review of the occupational science literature, Molke et al. (2004) identified the field as “…being founded on and fueled by occupational therapy’s basic ethical and philosophical view of the world” (p. 275). This review suggested that occupational science has historically had an individualistic focus. However, this perspective has recently been challenged by leaders in the field (Rudman et al., 2008) suggesting that interdisciplinarity is contributing to the advancement of knowledge generation in occupational science. As Rudman et al. (2008) state, “clarifying what is meant by interdisciplinarity, as well as discussing the types of ties occupational scientists wish to make with other disciplines, may be steps forward in understanding occupation” (p. 140). The issue of interdisciplinarity was of interest to first year graduate students taking the foundational course in the field of occupational science. This interest was underscored by the fact that all four students were from different disciplinary backgrounds. Thus, students wanted to find out more about what interdisciplinarity means and how it is impacting occupational science.

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to understand current issues in the evolution of interdisciplinarity within the epistemic occupational science community at Western University.

Method

The first year occupational science students at Western University developed a survey consisting of 14 multiple choice and short-answer questions. Questions were developed through an exploration of interdisciplinarity within the occupational science literature, discussion, and revisiting of the survey objectives. Short-answer questions were designed to be open-ended, allowing for rich results and to encourage participants to reflect on their perspectives of occupational science. Ethics approval was received from Western University.

The survey was administered online to a convenience sample of past and present graduate students and faculty of Western University’s occupational science community. All current and past members of the occupational science community were invited to participate via email; at this time we have a 36% response rate and data collection is still underway. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the sample to date and a thematic and content analysis is being used to analyze the qualitative data.

Results

Participants (N=12) included three current M.Sc and two current PhD students, four graduates of the program and three faculty members. Disciplinary backgrounds of these participants include occupational therapy (N=7), non-profit agency management (N=1), psychology (N=2), science and business (N=1), and health science (N=1). Preliminary themes included the specific challenges and promotion of interdisciplinarity within the science, the meanings of interdisciplinarity, and the types actions used to support it. Viewpoints on the expansion of occupational science from individual to broader, more complex perspectives were also reported. Some of the prominent challenges identified were relaying the understanding of what is meant by occupation and its relevance to other disciplines.

Contribution

This study will utilize the viewpoints of Western’s occupational science community to help understand the different ways that interdisciplinarity is being experienced and shaped, the meaning it has for the field, for present and future knowledge generation, and its relevance for future students.

Keywords: Interdisciplinary, Occupational Science

References

Molke, D. K., Laliberte-Rudman, D., Polatajko, H. J. (2004). The promise of occupational science: A developmental assessment of an emerging academic discipline. Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71:5, 269 - 280.

Rudman, D. L., Dennhardt, S., Fok, D., Huot, S., Molke, D., Park, A., & Zur, B. (2008). A vision for occupational science: Reflecting on our disciplinary culture. Journal of Occupational Science, 15:3, 136-146.

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Oct 17th, 6:30 PM Oct 17th, 8:30 PM

Research Poster Session - Understanding Interdisciplinarity in Occupational Science

Magnolia Room

Background

In a review of the occupational science literature, Molke et al. (2004) identified the field as “…being founded on and fueled by occupational therapy’s basic ethical and philosophical view of the world” (p. 275). This review suggested that occupational science has historically had an individualistic focus. However, this perspective has recently been challenged by leaders in the field (Rudman et al., 2008) suggesting that interdisciplinarity is contributing to the advancement of knowledge generation in occupational science. As Rudman et al. (2008) state, “clarifying what is meant by interdisciplinarity, as well as discussing the types of ties occupational scientists wish to make with other disciplines, may be steps forward in understanding occupation” (p. 140). The issue of interdisciplinarity was of interest to first year graduate students taking the foundational course in the field of occupational science. This interest was underscored by the fact that all four students were from different disciplinary backgrounds. Thus, students wanted to find out more about what interdisciplinarity means and how it is impacting occupational science.

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to understand current issues in the evolution of interdisciplinarity within the epistemic occupational science community at Western University.

Method

The first year occupational science students at Western University developed a survey consisting of 14 multiple choice and short-answer questions. Questions were developed through an exploration of interdisciplinarity within the occupational science literature, discussion, and revisiting of the survey objectives. Short-answer questions were designed to be open-ended, allowing for rich results and to encourage participants to reflect on their perspectives of occupational science. Ethics approval was received from Western University.

The survey was administered online to a convenience sample of past and present graduate students and faculty of Western University’s occupational science community. All current and past members of the occupational science community were invited to participate via email; at this time we have a 36% response rate and data collection is still underway. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the sample to date and a thematic and content analysis is being used to analyze the qualitative data.

Results

Participants (N=12) included three current M.Sc and two current PhD students, four graduates of the program and three faculty members. Disciplinary backgrounds of these participants include occupational therapy (N=7), non-profit agency management (N=1), psychology (N=2), science and business (N=1), and health science (N=1). Preliminary themes included the specific challenges and promotion of interdisciplinarity within the science, the meanings of interdisciplinarity, and the types actions used to support it. Viewpoints on the expansion of occupational science from individual to broader, more complex perspectives were also reported. Some of the prominent challenges identified were relaying the understanding of what is meant by occupation and its relevance to other disciplines.

Contribution

This study will utilize the viewpoints of Western’s occupational science community to help understand the different ways that interdisciplinarity is being experienced and shaped, the meaning it has for the field, for present and future knowledge generation, and its relevance for future students.

Keywords: Interdisciplinary, Occupational Science