Title

Using horizontal course integration to improve teaching and learning in occupational science

Location

Room A

Start Time

18-10-2013 11:35 AM

End Time

18-10-2013 12:05 PM

Session Type

Theoretical Paper

Abstract

Many academic innovations over the last 20 years demonstrate how occupational science has matured as a discipline (Pierce, 2012). However, the paucity of scholarship of teaching and learning in occupational science highlights a continued need for disciplinary growth. Specifically, little scholarship documents the integration of occupational science content across courses in academic programs (Wood et al., 2000). Course integration has been successfully used in other content areas and academic disciplines, and general evidence supports course integration as a means of improving curricular design and student learning (Vidic & Wietlauf, 2002). One particular course integration strategy—horizontal integration—involves fusing content across courses in a specific academic term. Integrating content via such strategies helps achieve the following four educational objectives, according to Case (1991): (a) helping students deal with the world’s complexity; (b) overcoming students’ rigid perceptions of subject boundaries; (c) helping students respect and view knowledge as seamless; and (d) promoting efficiency in thinking and learning. Such educational objectives appear particularly relevant for occupational science education given the discipline’s interdisciplinary and complex nature.

This paper presents the horizontal integration of Saint Louis University’s fall undergraduate occupational science courses. In their junior year, students in the Bachelors of Science in Occupational Science (BSOS) program take three occupational science courses per semester. These two semesters were designed in 2004 to impart basic terms and concepts, theoretical perspectives, and topics in occupational science. The fall semester courses in particular were initially conceptualized as covering distinct yet related aspects of the Person-Environment-Occupation model (Law et al., 1996), but the purpose and content of these courses shifted as occupational science developed. In light of the need to keep pace with the discipline’s advances, the authors used horizontal integration to restructure the fall semester occupational science courses in 2012.

This paper compares and contrasts the presentation of occupation and related concepts in Saint Louis University’s fall occupational science courses pre-, post-, and one year following horizontal integration. Course descriptions, schedules, and assignments provide evidence of changes made consequent to horizontal integration. Faculty and student perspectives, which were gathered at multiple points before and after the integration, help frame the pros and cons of this educational strategy. Reflections on this horizontal integration process underscore the need for effective faculty collaboration to integrate content. Reflections also ground suggestions for future horizontal integration efforts. In addition, this paper identifies implications for occupational science education and the discipline’s development as a whole.

References

Case, R. (1991). The anatomy of curricular integration. Canadian Journal of Education, 16(2), 215-224.

Law, M., Cooper, B,. Strong, S., Stewart, D., Rigby, P. & Letts, L. (1996). The Person-Environment-Occupation Model: A transactive approach to occupational performance. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 63(1), 9-23.

Pierce, D. (2012). Promise: The 2011 Ruth Zemke lecture in occupational science. Journal of Occupational Science, 19(4), 298-311.

Wood, W., Nielsen, C., Humphry, R., Coppola, S., Baranek, G., & Rourk, J. (2000). A curricular renaissance: Graduate education centered on occupation. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 54(6), 586-597.

Vidic, B. & Weitlauf, H. (2002). Horizontal and vertical integration of academic disciplines in the medical school curriculum. Clinical Anatomy, 15, 233-235.

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Oct 18th, 11:35 AM Oct 18th, 12:05 PM

Using horizontal course integration to improve teaching and learning in occupational science

Room A

Many academic innovations over the last 20 years demonstrate how occupational science has matured as a discipline (Pierce, 2012). However, the paucity of scholarship of teaching and learning in occupational science highlights a continued need for disciplinary growth. Specifically, little scholarship documents the integration of occupational science content across courses in academic programs (Wood et al., 2000). Course integration has been successfully used in other content areas and academic disciplines, and general evidence supports course integration as a means of improving curricular design and student learning (Vidic & Wietlauf, 2002). One particular course integration strategy—horizontal integration—involves fusing content across courses in a specific academic term. Integrating content via such strategies helps achieve the following four educational objectives, according to Case (1991): (a) helping students deal with the world’s complexity; (b) overcoming students’ rigid perceptions of subject boundaries; (c) helping students respect and view knowledge as seamless; and (d) promoting efficiency in thinking and learning. Such educational objectives appear particularly relevant for occupational science education given the discipline’s interdisciplinary and complex nature.

This paper presents the horizontal integration of Saint Louis University’s fall undergraduate occupational science courses. In their junior year, students in the Bachelors of Science in Occupational Science (BSOS) program take three occupational science courses per semester. These two semesters were designed in 2004 to impart basic terms and concepts, theoretical perspectives, and topics in occupational science. The fall semester courses in particular were initially conceptualized as covering distinct yet related aspects of the Person-Environment-Occupation model (Law et al., 1996), but the purpose and content of these courses shifted as occupational science developed. In light of the need to keep pace with the discipline’s advances, the authors used horizontal integration to restructure the fall semester occupational science courses in 2012.

This paper compares and contrasts the presentation of occupation and related concepts in Saint Louis University’s fall occupational science courses pre-, post-, and one year following horizontal integration. Course descriptions, schedules, and assignments provide evidence of changes made consequent to horizontal integration. Faculty and student perspectives, which were gathered at multiple points before and after the integration, help frame the pros and cons of this educational strategy. Reflections on this horizontal integration process underscore the need for effective faculty collaboration to integrate content. Reflections also ground suggestions for future horizontal integration efforts. In addition, this paper identifies implications for occupational science education and the discipline’s development as a whole.