Title

Student Poster Session - Crossing the Divides to Learn and Enact Occupational Science Concepts: The Impact of Experiential Outings

Start Time

18-10-2013 12:40 PM

End Time

18-10-2013 1:30 PM

Abstract

This poster describes how an undergraduate occupational science course reinforced a student’s understanding of the importance of occupational justice for occupational beings. In spring 2013, an occupational science course at Saint Louis University incorporated a trip across the “Delmar Divide” (Strasser, 2012) to North Saint Louis to facilitate experiential learning and reflection about course concepts. North Saint Louis contains examples of marginalization, occupational injustice, and occupational deprivation due to urban decay and the lack of resources such as day care centers, grocery stores, and health care providers. In addition, a lack of foot traffic in this community creates a visual absence of occupation. Class discussion and personal reflection showed that the experiential outing to North Saint Louis exemplified the link between resources, poverty, unemployment, and engagement in occupation. Not only did this outing provide examples of current course concepts, but it also reinforced understandings from previous occupational science courses about context and humans as occupational beings. The outing showed how physical, social, and cultural contexts impact people’s participation in occupation, and it also evidenced the ideas of occupational beings and the necessity of doing, being, and becoming (Wilcock, 1998).

Yerxa (1990) stated that occupational science addresses human needs by examining how people make choices, define self, and become responsible through occupations. Observation is an essential basis for applying and reflecting on occupational science examinations of human need. Through experiential outings such as the one discussed in this poster, students may concretely observe and reflect on what people do and how they do it, cementing a “new lens” through which to understand occupations (Yerxa, 1990, p. 1, 3). Crossing divides between the classroom and the “real” world can thus play an essential role in occupational science education.

By crossing the divide into North Saint Louis, the first author learned that people cannot grow, change, adapt, or increase occupational justice without having the opportunity to engage in purposeful occupations. In light of this understanding, the first author felt empowered to participate in a campus volunteer organization that works with North Saint Louis, in hopes of creating more occupational opportunities for the people living in that community. The volunteer organization brings resources to North City, such as health screening and job opportunities, which enhance engagement in occupations to support a healthy life. In other words, the organization provides a vehicle for students to help enact occupational justice as well as engage in community occupations. Discussion of this poster will therefore focus on how the first author began to critically analyze the environment, culture, and patterns of behavior in North Saint Louis to understand and eventually enact occupational justice.

Key Words: Experiential education, occupational justice, observation

References

Strasser, F. (2012). Crossing a St. Louis street that divides communities [video]. British Broadcasting Company, March 13, 2012. Retrieved January 18, 2013 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17361995.

Wilcock, A. (1998). Reflections on doing, being, and becoming. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65(5), 248-256.

Yerxa,. (1990). An introduction to occupational science: A foundation for occupational therapy in the 21st century. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 6, 1-17.

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Oct 18th, 12:40 PM Oct 18th, 1:30 PM

Student Poster Session - Crossing the Divides to Learn and Enact Occupational Science Concepts: The Impact of Experiential Outings

This poster describes how an undergraduate occupational science course reinforced a student’s understanding of the importance of occupational justice for occupational beings. In spring 2013, an occupational science course at Saint Louis University incorporated a trip across the “Delmar Divide” (Strasser, 2012) to North Saint Louis to facilitate experiential learning and reflection about course concepts. North Saint Louis contains examples of marginalization, occupational injustice, and occupational deprivation due to urban decay and the lack of resources such as day care centers, grocery stores, and health care providers. In addition, a lack of foot traffic in this community creates a visual absence of occupation. Class discussion and personal reflection showed that the experiential outing to North Saint Louis exemplified the link between resources, poverty, unemployment, and engagement in occupation. Not only did this outing provide examples of current course concepts, but it also reinforced understandings from previous occupational science courses about context and humans as occupational beings. The outing showed how physical, social, and cultural contexts impact people’s participation in occupation, and it also evidenced the ideas of occupational beings and the necessity of doing, being, and becoming (Wilcock, 1998).

Yerxa (1990) stated that occupational science addresses human needs by examining how people make choices, define self, and become responsible through occupations. Observation is an essential basis for applying and reflecting on occupational science examinations of human need. Through experiential outings such as the one discussed in this poster, students may concretely observe and reflect on what people do and how they do it, cementing a “new lens” through which to understand occupations (Yerxa, 1990, p. 1, 3). Crossing divides between the classroom and the “real” world can thus play an essential role in occupational science education.

By crossing the divide into North Saint Louis, the first author learned that people cannot grow, change, adapt, or increase occupational justice without having the opportunity to engage in purposeful occupations. In light of this understanding, the first author felt empowered to participate in a campus volunteer organization that works with North Saint Louis, in hopes of creating more occupational opportunities for the people living in that community. The volunteer organization brings resources to North City, such as health screening and job opportunities, which enhance engagement in occupations to support a healthy life. In other words, the organization provides a vehicle for students to help enact occupational justice as well as engage in community occupations. Discussion of this poster will therefore focus on how the first author began to critically analyze the environment, culture, and patterns of behavior in North Saint Louis to understand and eventually enact occupational justice.

Key Words: Experiential education, occupational justice, observation