Intraprofessional Collaboration: Innovations in Occupational Therapy Academia

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Dennehy, Terri Reichley
Graduate Program:
Adult Education
Doctor of Education
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
October 25, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Edward W. Taylor, Dissertation Advisor
  • Edward W. Taylor, Committee Chair
  • Robin Redmon Wright, Committee Member
  • Raffy Luquis, Committee Member
  • Hengameh Hosseini, Outside Member
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Intraprofessional Collaboration
  • Participatory Action Research
  • Learner-Centered Education
The purpose of this qualitative action research (AR) study was to develop an innovative college elective with occupational therapy and assistant students (OT/OTA) from different universities which examined skill development related to effective supervisory, collaborative and intraprofessional relationships. A theoretical lens of situated learning, focusing on social means of information assimilation and a learner-centered approach, framed the study and informed the direction and formatting of the elective. The study provided opportunities for student collaborators, both OT and OTAs, to participate, direct and make decisions surrounding class experiences, structure and outcome measures. The 15-week semester/term cycled repeatedly through planning, acting, observing and reflecting for the express purpose of collaborator problem solving within the realm of OT academia related to OT/OTA intraprofessional integration. Findings of the study afforded understanding into the realm of therapy and assistant academic preparation. First, collaborators were able to recognize the ways in which their learning had transpired previous to the study, including teacher-centered formats of lecture, labs and testing for assessment. This was contrasted to the learner-centered approach of shared decision-making, exploring content in ways that were identified as meaningful by the students, and as collaborative, reflective and social in nature. The adult learners went on to identify attributes of effective intraprofessional collaboration to include effective communication, active listening, trust, respect, and empathy. Self-awareness and an understanding of one’s counterpart were pivotal to the successful intraprofessional partnership. When learning the skills of working together, learners discussed the importance of face-to-face-interactions and the importance of time to develop connections. Logistical, financial and institutional limitations created challenges for this undertaking, however the endeavor yielded not only informative insights, but also implications for practice and for future research.