Online learning in entry -level occupational therapy programs: Perspectives of program directors, faculty, and students

Rachelle Dorne, Tennessee State University


This study described the perceptions of educators and students with online courses. The literature review included student demographics, constructivism, Chickering and Gamson's (1987) “Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education”, and the Coomey and Stephenson's (2001) paradigm of online learning features of dialogue, involvement, support, and control. A convenience sample of twenty-eight program directors, two faculty, and three students from public, entry-level occupational therapy programs in eastern United States participated. The mixed method research design employed qualitative interviews and quantitative surveys. ^ Faculty interviewed found the Web a helpful repository for course documents. Computerized grading of clinical documentation was less convenient than traditional methods. Intensive instruction of students in using course Web pages prior to online fieldwork discussions prepared students for technical challenges. ^ Interviews of students formerly engaged in a Web-enhanced pathophysiology course revealed high levels of frustration and anxiety during initial online inquiry-based assignments. Over three semesters of Web-enhanced professional coursework, students reported more trust in the instructor, self, peers, and the Internet as they assumed more control of and received support for learning. Themes emerged of self-confidence, flow, and self-efficacy. Individualization of instruction occurred as students chose the complexity of instructional Web pages and graphical representations. Students reported continued computer use during subsequent fieldwork and classroom situations. Students' comments on the Web-enhanced courses provided evidence of the Seven Principles. Results of the program director surveys showed that 82 percent of respondents used online teaching in their curricula. More than half of users chose online learning to increase: communication between faculty and students, and among students, access to the Web, independent learning, access for off-campus students, and use of interactive media and simulations. Statistically significant differences in reasons for online teaching were based on percentage of nontraditional enrollment. Features of online teaching significantly correlated with educational level of students. The author concluded that support for learning to use the various features of the course Website is critical to student success. Instructors should carefully construct the course to require student collaboration and meet students' individual learning needs. Gradual release of course control to students may provide socioemotional and cognitive benefits. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Education|Education, Technology of|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Rachelle Dorne, "Online learning in entry -level occupational therapy programs: Perspectives of program directors, faculty, and students" (2004). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3127545.