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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Comparison of three program planning variables in continuing education in occupational therapy in British Columbia Harvey, Laura M.


The purpose of this investigation was to study variables important to the design of effective continuing education programs for clinical occupational therapists. The relationships between therapists' professional role and geographic location and three program planning variables were examined. The selected variables were: learning needs, barriers to participation, and preferred delivery systems. A secondary purpose was to gather specific information upon which to base continuing education opportunities for therapists in British Columbia. The sample for this descriptive study was all members of the British Columbia Society of Occupational Therapists. An instrument was developed which examined the three program planning variables and a number of respondent characteristics. The learning needs section was based on the assessment of the gap between existing and desired level of expertise on 30, competency statements. These competencies focused on three skill areas frequently used by clinical therapists: evaluation, therapeutic procedures, and the use of therapeutic equipment and materials. The two categories of barriers to participation studied were situational (those arising from one's situation at a given point in time) and institutional (those planning practices and procedures which prevent participation). In relation to delivery system, a comparison was made between selected direct and distance systems. The rank-ordering of learning needs revealed evaluation as the competency area in which the greatest need existed, particularly evaluation of perceptual-motor, cognitive and sensory function. Vocational assessment and treatment was also reported as a priority for planners when the high learning need and lack of training opportunities were both considered. The findings indicated situational barriers to participation were most frequently encountered by the respondents with family responsibility and lack of time receiving the highest ranking. The overwhelming preference of delivery system was the workshop; respondents indicated minimal interest in distance delivery systems. Few significant differences were found between the perceptions of clinical and supervisory therapists or between urban and rural therapists in relation to the planning variables studied. Of the seven hypotheses studied, only the one suggesting differences in barriers to participation between urban and rural therapists was supported at the level of significance adopted for this study. ' The major implication of this study is the utility of supervisors as a source of information for planning programs for clinical therapists. The need for developing new assessment tools was also suggested by the findings of the study. The continued use of workshops as a major delivery system, regardless of geographic location of the therapist, was supported. Considering the limited resources available, planners should emphasize increasing the numbers of participants and whenever possible, the introduction of innovative programs.

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