The curriculum incorporates a variety of evaluation methods which correspond to the teaching methods and objectives of each course, with maximal emphasis on integration of learning, and a minimal emphasis on rote learning. These methods include the following:
The foundational theory guiding the Educational Conceptual Framework is transformative learning theory (Mesirow, 1991). This theory focuses on the ‘deep learning’ that students undergo when significant shifts in their perspectives take place. Other theories that contribute to the framework include: Kolb’s theory of experiential learning, social constructivism, critical pedagogy, cognitive neuroscience theory, and Bloom’s taxonomy of learning.
Kolb’s theory of experiential learning (1984) proposes a cycle of experiential learning where the learning occurs by a cyclical process of encountering the phenomena, observing the consequences of the encounter, analyzing patterns and formulating general principles, and then testing these in context through active experimentation.
Social constructivism leads to greater focus on self-directed learning and assumes that learners construct knowledge based on internal cognitive processes, social interactions, and other experiences Merriam and Caffarella’s (1999). Critical pedagogy is an educational philosophy that endorses and nurtures students’ critical thinking through cycles of theory, application, evaluation, and reflection (Giroux, 2010; Shor, 1996). Critical pedagogy aims to have students critically examine implicit assumptions, power imbalances, inequities, and the social structures that maintain these structures.
The theory of cognitive neuroscience discusses that learning processes occur within the neural networks of the brain leading to permanent changes in the neural architecture of the brain.
Integrated with all of these approaches, is Bloom’s taxonomy, updated by Atherton (2011), which is used as a comprehensive categorization of knowledge types and specific learning processes)
The MScOT curriculum and evaluations are structured to reflect the principles of these theories. The ECF is dynamic and will evolve in response to feedback from students and changes in professional practice.
**With thanks to the following students for their involvement with curriculum development and with preparing this summary of the ECF: Aneesha Sravanapudi, Ashley Furrow, Cheryl Lui, Emma Scammell, and Valerie Estioko
|Preparatory Stage||Course and case development||Cases are included in course manuals||Course Instr. & others (e.g., case OT). Cases based on actual situations|
|Case Teaching||5 steps of the DCM||Student learning||Course Instr. & students|
|Case Evaluation||Evaluate student performance in the case class & evaluate case effectiveness||Student grade and case review||Course Instr. & others (e.g., case OT, TA)|
The student experiences the DCM steps:
|1||Independent analysis||Student independently formulates understanding of case and a preliminary decision (makes a work plan, as necessary)||Individual student|
|2||Individual write-up of analysis||Paper filed & (if required) handed in to instructor; (Instr. may mark all or a random selection)||Individual student|
|3||Small group analysis||Students share information and discuss potential decisions (make a work plan and meet again, as necessary), prepare for full class discussion||Study group|
|4||Case class discussion||Full class participates in a targeted discussion of the case and the decision. Students expand understanding of case and its solution||Full class led by expert faculty/instructor|
|5||Individual write-up of case and final decisions, incl. how these have changed (or not) since Step 1 & 2.||Students hand in papers, instructor marks (random) selection||Table|
Five problem solving questions are used each time the student is considering the case:
- What do I know from what is given in the case and from my knowledge about issues raised in this case?
- What do I need to find out and how will I do that?
- What are three possible solutions to this case?
- Which one will I choose and why, based on evidence?
- How will I know if it worked (what evidence will I use?)
Fieldwork – block and field-based learning
Please refer to the Fieldwork section.
Self-Study and Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI)
It is recognized that there are many ways that the curriculum can expect and support self-study/independent learning, and a significant amount of time will be spent in this way. Computer-assisted instruction has been used in the OT program in the past, and the Department will continue to find more ways to incorporate CAI into courses, especially as new technologies develop.
An essential feature of the DCM process described above, study groups are an integral part of the curriculum. They provide a vehicle for students to carry out the independent and collaborative learning required for various teaching/learning methods including DCM, interactive lectures and group assignments. Study groups will assist students in integrating their learning across courses and support opportunities for in-depth study. Consistent use of study groups will assist students in optimizing the use of their time and decrease scheduling difficulties.
There will be 10 study groups, consisting of 8 – 9 members, and the number shall remain as consistent as possible throughout the program. The study groups will initially be constructed at the beginning of the program, and will be randomly redistributed at two further points to allow students to benefit from a wide variety of perspectives and backgrounds, and to develop skills in small group process. The redistribution of study group membership will occur: End of Term 1 and End of Term 3.
Dealing With Students Who Are Not Meeting Expectations in Study Groups
Several times in the past few years, student and faculty members have asked for guidelines regarding how to deal with students who are not “carrying their weight” in study groups. The kinds of situations which have come up include, for example, not attending study group meetings, not completing required components of group projects, or not contributing to group discussions.
As a result of these requests, the Professional Curriculum Committee and the Student Affairs Committee have developed the following guidelines, shown as a flowchart diagram, regarding intervention when one or more students in a group are perceived to not be meeting group expectations.
We have developed the guidelines as a flow chart to indicate the possible and desired steps that a group can go through when a problem has been identified. Although the process looks quite detailed in this diagram, it can take place within one or several sessions.
It is important to note that this guideline is to assist students and faculty dealing with difficult situations and is intended to be used before serious problems are identified. Normally, students who do not meet expected behaviors should not be considered to have breached the Student Code of Conduct until attempts to address and rectify the issue have occurred.
The guideline also assumes that at the beginning of the program, as study groups are first formed, there would be a meeting to talk about group process so that all students are familiar with the expectations of the program, and to enable discussion within the group about group norms.
b) Mentor Groups:
The course, Building Reflective Practice through Mentorship: OCT 1190Y, consists of 10 small groups of students (8-9) and an OT mentor, who meet every 2 weeks for 1 ½ hours throughout the two years of the MScOT program. Students are assigned to their mentor group at the beginning of the program and remain with the same group throughout. The course is designed to foster the students’ development as a health professional, and to enable them to support each other’s growth and development in the Occupational Therapy program. This group process allows students to experience, examine, and discuss the skills, attitudes and behaviours necessary for a developing professional.
The role of the mentor is to facilitate and guide the students through a supportive, reflective experience. Mentors have been nominated by students, faculty and members of our clinical community for their ability to perform this role. Mentors encourage an atmosphere of safety and freedom to explore professional issues that arise in becoming an Occupational Therapist.
- To identify the qualities of an occupational therapy professional.
- To progressively demonstrate the qualities of an occupational therapy professional.
- To demonstrate effective reflective practice strategies.
- To develop a professional portfolio.
- To demonstrate increasing proficiency in group process skills.
- To develop effective communication skills.
- To learn how to effectively give and receive feedback on professional skill development.
Student growth and professional development are explored as part of the process of the mentor group experience. To encourage the development of interpersonal and professional skills, mentors and students will provide feedback to one another throughout the program. This will include a written feedback form at the end of the program. Students will be given verbal feedback by mentors and fellow students in the following areas: communication, contribution to group (group maintenance skills, group task skills) and self-development. Formal verbal feedback sessions will occur 1-2 times per term. Informal group and individual feedback will occur more regularly, as each group determines the need.