Perceptions of occupational therapy threshold concepts by students in role-emerging placements in schools: A qualitative investigation
Traversing threshold concepts has been identified as crucial in becoming an occupational therapist. To support this learning, previous research has emphasised the value of students engaging in practice-based learning, accompanying reflection, and a curriculum which makes threshold concepts explicit to students. Role-emerging placements form part of students’ practice-based learning in many universities and could offer a valuable opportunity for students to learn threshold concepts. Understanding the value of threshold concepts to enhance role-emerging placement learning from both the students’ and educators’ perspectives warrants further research. The aim of this study was to examine how occupational therapy students on role-emerging placements in school settings experienced applying threshold concepts and how it impacted on their learning.
An epistemological position of social constructionism and a qualitative research design was used. This included semi-structured focus group interviews and reflective logs that enabled exploration of 13 student’s and one supervisor’s perspectives of learning during the placement. Template analysis was used to analyse the data.
Students spoke of their learning of the threshold concepts of client-centredness, occupation, and understanding and applying occupational therapy theory in practice. These are expressed within the three emergent themes; ‘curriculum supports in placement’, ‘uncertainty when applying their own knowledge’, and ‘placement context and expectations’.
Results suggest that learning happens within the liminal spaces which occurred from an intersection with the threshold concepts, the curriculum, knowledge generation and use, and the context and expectations of the role-emerging placement. Engaging with uncertainty may be considered a vital part of this process and something which should be valued.
Journal/Conference/Book titleAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal