Framework for Curriculum Design
The Department of Occupational Therapy views occupation and occupational performance as core for organizing curriculum, community interactions, teaching/learning processes, and student outcomes for successful practice as occupational therapists. Occupation is a core construct of the curriculum. In Aristotle’s words, “anything that we have to learn to do, we learn by the actual doing of it….. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate ones, brave by doing brave ones” (1074/2006). Occupation is a complex process of doing, being and/or becoming; it is a medium for learning by doing and for developing roles of habit and reason. It provides a foundation, and primary focus for all matters associated with departmental functioning. The courses in the OTD curriculum promote clinical decision-making, problem-solving, and reflective practice at all levels of interaction with clients and populations, from initial examination to outcomes assessment. Students' clinical competency must measure up to both the basic sciences and reflective clinical skills prior to their assignment to any full-time fieldwork education and doctoral residency.
The Person-Environment-Occupation-Performance (PEOP) model by Christiansen and Baum (2005) provides a unifying concept for the overall curriculum. We define occupational performance as a process that includes the "doing of activities, tasks, and roles" and serves as a way of integrating an individual with their particular societal roles in various environments (Christiansen & Baum, 2005, p. 244). Occupational performance is a result of the person and environment interaction, or, in which roles and task are carried out, i.e., a human being in place while knowing and doing (Rowles, 1991). Likewise, the curriculum wraps itself around the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework (OTPF) to reiterate the profession's core beliefs in the relationship between occupation and health and its view of people as occupational beings, (AOTA, 2008).
Each course intentionally considers and applies the PEOP - OTPF relationship with all course content and objectives as the major unifying curricular thread. Courses are logically sequenced to facilitate students' comprehensive knowledge and application of this relationship and its application to occupational therapy practice. The following course sequences weave into the curriculum for the entry level Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program designed to meet current standards for doctoral occupational therapy education, and provide consistency throughout the curriculum. These curriculum sequences are:
- Basic Sciences
- Foundations in Occupation
- Occupation Science & Technology
- Occupational Interventions
- Evidence Base & Exploration
- Leadership & Globalization
- Clinical Competence
- Doctoral Transformation
OTD Curriculum Model
The OTD curriculum model illustrates didactic-to-clinical experiences designed for the Nova Southeastern University Tampa doctoral student. The inner circle features the eight clusters of course sequences within the hybrid entry level professional program. The concentric rings, shown starting from the inner layer comprise: 1) teaching exemplar; 2) learning threads; and 3) practice areas consistent with the profession's Centennial Vision.
The eight curriculum sequences provide opportunities for student experiences for lifelong learning applying the PEOP model and the OTPF. The sequences provide activities to learn the structure and function of the human body as it relates to occupations; theoretical and philosophical foundations of occupational therapy practice; expressions and use of occupations and technology for teaching and learning across the lifespan; identification and treatment of developmental and acquired occupational dysfunctions using occupation based interventions; evidence basis and scholarly explorations for accountable practice; leadership and advocacy for responsible collaborative, global practice; clinical competence in all areas of practice, and beginning specialization as a reflective doctorally prepared professional.
A subject centered approach described by Palmer (1998), creates a community of learning that is centered on a central subject for aligning faculty and students. The core subjects, occupation and occupational performance, form the focus of learning and general processes within a hybrid of face to face and distance academic environment. Subject centered education promotes dynamic involvement of the learner with peers, faculty, and the core subject, as knowledge is constructed, or built together in context with teacher-student virtual and real time interaction, allowing for richness, recursion, relations, rigor and reiterative reflection (Doll, 1933).
- Richness refers to the depth of the curriculum, and a process that facilitates multiple layers of meaning and possibilities of interpretation.
- Recursion is the reflective interaction of the student with the environment, others, culture and with one's own knowledge.
- Relations allows for making connections with the understanding that individual perceptions are part of a larger cultural, economic and global milieu.
- Rigor refers to fostering understanding of the complexity of uncertainty and critical interpretation of what comes out of occupational chaos.
- Reiterative reflection is the ultimate process of looking at revisiting richness, recursion, relations, and rigor of information as they apply in the didactic and clinical aspects of each experience during the doctoral transformation.