Title

Building global connections in occupational science and occupational therapy education: Preliminary findings and future directions of a US-Swedish partnership

Location

Soo Line

Start Time

17-10-2014 10:30 AM

End Time

17-10-2014 11:00 AM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

Scant literature addresses how to infuse global perspectives into occupational science and occupational therapy student learning environments. The need for global perspectives has long been recognized vis-à-vis cultural tensions in occupational therapy practice (Iwama, 2007) and the opportunities afforded by globalization (Westcott & Whitcombe, 2003); however, occupational science has been relatively silent regarding the development of global educational partnerships. The time is thus ripe for educators to form such partnerships (Thibeault, 2006) and explore various instructional designs – such as online technologies (Trujillo, 2007) – to infuse global perspectives into their curricula.

This paper describes how Saint Louis University’s (SLU) undergraduate occupational science students and the Karolinska Institute’s (KI) undergraduate occupational therapy students are being connected via online communication technologies. During four weeks of real-time interactions in February and March 2013, paired groups of 10-26 SLU and KI students discussed a shared topic for one hour per week. Before and after the four weeks of interactions, Saint Louis University students completed ungraded case-based written reflections, the purpose of which was to elicit information about the impact of the interactions on student learning. Between June and October 2013, the first author analyzed 45 anonymized student reflections in Atlas.ti using open- and focused coding procedures (Charmaz, 2006). Over 50% of the students (N=25) identified the real-time interactions as the most influential aspect of the course for their learning. Based on these and other preliminary findings, the authors collaboratively refined the interactive sessions for their Spring 2014 courses. In these refined interactions, both SLU and KI students will complete reflections focused on ascertaining students’ knowledge of global issues in occupational science, the global practice of occupational therapy, and ways to gain knowledge about those topics. In the revised post-interaction reflection, students will also be asked to pinpoint what facet(s) of the real-time interactions (if any) facilitated their learning.

This paper will describe the rationale for initiating the SLU-KI partnership, the process of designing and implementing the real-time interactions, and the findings from both the 2013 and 2014 sets of student reflections. Discussion of these topics will emphasize future directions for global occupational science and occupational therapy educational partnerships, focusing in particular on what subject areas and university resources provide the optimal platform for bridging international educational programs.

Key words: global education, occupational science, learning technologies

References

Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing Grounded Theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Los Angeles: Sage.

Iwama, M. (2007). Culture and occupational therapy: Meeting the challenge of relevance in a global world. Occupational Therapy International, 14(4), 183-187.

Thibeault, R. (2006). Globalization, universities, and the future of occupational therapy: Dispatches for the Majority World. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 53, 159-165.

Trujillo, L. G. (2007). Distance education pedagogy and instructional design and development for occupational therapy programs. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 21, 159-174.

Westcott, L. & Whitcombe, S. W. (2003). Globalization and occupational therapy: Worlds apart? British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66(7), 328-330.

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Oct 17th, 10:30 AM Oct 17th, 11:00 AM

Building global connections in occupational science and occupational therapy education: Preliminary findings and future directions of a US-Swedish partnership

Soo Line

Scant literature addresses how to infuse global perspectives into occupational science and occupational therapy student learning environments. The need for global perspectives has long been recognized vis-à-vis cultural tensions in occupational therapy practice (Iwama, 2007) and the opportunities afforded by globalization (Westcott & Whitcombe, 2003); however, occupational science has been relatively silent regarding the development of global educational partnerships. The time is thus ripe for educators to form such partnerships (Thibeault, 2006) and explore various instructional designs – such as online technologies (Trujillo, 2007) – to infuse global perspectives into their curricula.

This paper describes how Saint Louis University’s (SLU) undergraduate occupational science students and the Karolinska Institute’s (KI) undergraduate occupational therapy students are being connected via online communication technologies. During four weeks of real-time interactions in February and March 2013, paired groups of 10-26 SLU and KI students discussed a shared topic for one hour per week. Before and after the four weeks of interactions, Saint Louis University students completed ungraded case-based written reflections, the purpose of which was to elicit information about the impact of the interactions on student learning. Between June and October 2013, the first author analyzed 45 anonymized student reflections in Atlas.ti using open- and focused coding procedures (Charmaz, 2006). Over 50% of the students (N=25) identified the real-time interactions as the most influential aspect of the course for their learning. Based on these and other preliminary findings, the authors collaboratively refined the interactive sessions for their Spring 2014 courses. In these refined interactions, both SLU and KI students will complete reflections focused on ascertaining students’ knowledge of global issues in occupational science, the global practice of occupational therapy, and ways to gain knowledge about those topics. In the revised post-interaction reflection, students will also be asked to pinpoint what facet(s) of the real-time interactions (if any) facilitated their learning.

This paper will describe the rationale for initiating the SLU-KI partnership, the process of designing and implementing the real-time interactions, and the findings from both the 2013 and 2014 sets of student reflections. Discussion of these topics will emphasize future directions for global occupational science and occupational therapy educational partnerships, focusing in particular on what subject areas and university resources provide the optimal platform for bridging international educational programs.

Key words: global education, occupational science, learning technologies