Title

Challenges in Teaching the Use of a Transactional Perspective in Practice

Start Time

October 2013

End Time

October 2013

Session Type

Theoretical Paper

Abstract

The work of occupational scientists has led to an enhanced understanding of occupation as a part of a human-context transaction (Dickie, Cutchin, & Humphry, 2006; Laliberte Rudman & Huot, 2013). However, though transactional perspectives on occupation are becoming increasingly accepted within occupational therapy (OT) education, there are challenges in teaching students to use transactional perspectives in practice. Among these challenges are conventional epistemologies related to human performance, practice environments that encourage conformity with pre-existing practice, and the discomfort of students with the “messy” nature of OT when practicing from a transactional perspective (Humphry & Wakeford, 2013). Using examples from teaching OT practice with children, this presentation is designed to explicate these challenges, describe methods of confronting these challenges currently used in one entry-level master’s program, and generate discussion about teaching OT students to use in practice the ideas and perspectives developed through occupational science.

As noted above, OT educators teaching students to use a transactional perspective as a meta-theory guiding practice will likely confront challenges on several fronts. To start, theoretical models to which students have been exposed prior to their OT education may have been developed based on individualistic scientific notions about human action that give little attention to the role of context in human behavior. For instance, theories of child development often included in psychology courses may predispose students to viewing childhood as a part of a maturational process that occurs in a relatively universal sequence of milestones. Educators must then help students to critique models of development and reductionistic views of human capacities that they have previously accepted, and to adopt a situational view of child-context transactions. In addition, student observations of OT practice may reflect a therapy process in which disability is located within the child, biomedical approaches to remediating skills of the individual are popular, but not always evidence-based, and service delivery occurs in an environment different from that with which the child usually engages. A third challenge in teaching a transactional perspective is that although a theoretical understanding of transaction may be achieved, the translation of thinking to action is not always easily explicated and therefore intimidating to students who want to know “what to do” in therapy. Occupational situations are unpredictable and complex, and students may experience discomfort with the “messiness” of enacting the OT process in those situations.

To address the challenges above, faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill use several pedagogical methods (Humphry & Wakeford, 2013). These include exploring transactional perspectives throughout the entire curriculum, critical analysis of conventional perspectives on child development by students, clearly explicating the relationships of persons and situations, and scaffolding of translating transactional thinking to practice. While these methods meet with reasonable success, challenges continue to exist, and students struggle with the tensions created by adopting a transactional perspective in a professional era in which it is not widely used. If educators are going to help students use ideas developed through occupational science, we must identify and address the barriers to using that content in practice.

Learning Objectives:

At the close of this session, participants will be able to:

  1. Articulate and discuss challenges to both faculty and students in the process of teaching and learning to use a transactional perspective on occupation in practice.
  2. Describe and discuss the methods used by faculty at one university to meet those challenges.
  3. Discuss their own perspectives and experiences with regard to these challenges and possible soluntions.

References

Dickie, V., Cutchin, M. P., & Humphry, R. (2006). Occupation as transactional experience: A critique of individualism in occupational science. Journal of Occupational Science, 13 , 83–93.

Humphry, R. & Wakeford, L. (2013). Educational implications of taking a transactional perspective of occupation in practice. In M. P. Cutchin & V. A. Dickie (Eds.). Transactional Perspectives on Occupation. New York: Springer.

Laliberte Rudman, D. & Huot, S. (2013). Conceptual insights for expanding thinking regarding the situated nature of occupation. In M. P. Cutchin & V. A. Dickie (Eds.). Transactional Perspectives on Occupation. New York: Springer.

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Oct 18th, 2:40 PM Oct 18th, 3:10 PM

Challenges in Teaching the Use of a Transactional Perspective in Practice

The work of occupational scientists has led to an enhanced understanding of occupation as a part of a human-context transaction (Dickie, Cutchin, & Humphry, 2006; Laliberte Rudman & Huot, 2013). However, though transactional perspectives on occupation are becoming increasingly accepted within occupational therapy (OT) education, there are challenges in teaching students to use transactional perspectives in practice. Among these challenges are conventional epistemologies related to human performance, practice environments that encourage conformity with pre-existing practice, and the discomfort of students with the “messy” nature of OT when practicing from a transactional perspective (Humphry & Wakeford, 2013). Using examples from teaching OT practice with children, this presentation is designed to explicate these challenges, describe methods of confronting these challenges currently used in one entry-level master’s program, and generate discussion about teaching OT students to use in practice the ideas and perspectives developed through occupational science.

As noted above, OT educators teaching students to use a transactional perspective as a meta-theory guiding practice will likely confront challenges on several fronts. To start, theoretical models to which students have been exposed prior to their OT education may have been developed based on individualistic scientific notions about human action that give little attention to the role of context in human behavior. For instance, theories of child development often included in psychology courses may predispose students to viewing childhood as a part of a maturational process that occurs in a relatively universal sequence of milestones. Educators must then help students to critique models of development and reductionistic views of human capacities that they have previously accepted, and to adopt a situational view of child-context transactions. In addition, student observations of OT practice may reflect a therapy process in which disability is located within the child, biomedical approaches to remediating skills of the individual are popular, but not always evidence-based, and service delivery occurs in an environment different from that with which the child usually engages. A third challenge in teaching a transactional perspective is that although a theoretical understanding of transaction may be achieved, the translation of thinking to action is not always easily explicated and therefore intimidating to students who want to know “what to do” in therapy. Occupational situations are unpredictable and complex, and students may experience discomfort with the “messiness” of enacting the OT process in those situations.

To address the challenges above, faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill use several pedagogical methods (Humphry & Wakeford, 2013). These include exploring transactional perspectives throughout the entire curriculum, critical analysis of conventional perspectives on child development by students, clearly explicating the relationships of persons and situations, and scaffolding of translating transactional thinking to practice. While these methods meet with reasonable success, challenges continue to exist, and students struggle with the tensions created by adopting a transactional perspective in a professional era in which it is not widely used. If educators are going to help students use ideas developed through occupational science, we must identify and address the barriers to using that content in practice.

Learning Objectives:

At the close of this session, participants will be able to:

  1. Articulate and discuss challenges to both faculty and students in the process of teaching and learning to use a transactional perspective on occupation in practice.
  2. Describe and discuss the methods used by faculty at one university to meet those challenges.
  3. Discuss their own perspectives and experiences with regard to these challenges and possible soluntions.