Academic journal article British Journal of Occupational Therapy

An International Systematic Mapping Review of Educational Approaches and Teaching Methods in Occupational Therapy

Academic journal article British Journal of Occupational Therapy

An International Systematic Mapping Review of Educational Approaches and Teaching Methods in Occupational Therapy

Article excerpt


This paper presents a systematic mapping review of the educational approaches and teaching methods published internationally in the occupational therapy literature in the first decade of the 21st century Mapping reviews are used when a body of scholarship has been under way for some time yet its scope has not been described, categorised or evaluated (Hammick 2005). A systematic mapping review produces a 'map' of a field, illustrating topics, research designs, themes, theoretical frameworks and trends across a body of scholarship. No such map exists for educational approaches and teaching methods in occupational therapy, despite its importance in guaranteeing entry-level competence in graduates and in the path to a stronger profession and perhaps its future survival (Yerxa 1998).

Education will fulfil its mandate by building conceptual models and research that support and elaborate profession-specific educational approaches and teaching methods (Hooper 2010). Gathering in the field's educational scholarship on an international level to summarise it is a vital first step for 'moving from opinion-based education to evidence-based education' (Harden et al 1999, p553). The purpose of this study was, therefore, to create a map of international literature on occupational therapy's educational approaches and teaching methods between 2000 and 2009.

Educational approaches and teaching methods refer to different dimensions of educational practice. Educational approaches are the 'ends of teaching' and the 'why of teaching' (Fenstermacher and Soltis 2009, p7): broad theoretical and philosophical stances that encompass ideals about the nature of knowledge and content, educator-learner roles, why students learn and through what mechanisms. Examples from this study included experiential/active, interprofessional and community-based learning. Teaching methods refer to what Fenstermacher and Soltis (2009) described as the 'how of teaching' (p7): specific instructional strategies encompassing how learning is planned and organised, materials are created, techniques are executed and learning is assessed. Because teaching methods can be employed to serve many educational approaches (Hooper 2006a), a strict dichotomy between approaches and methods does not exist. For example, problem-based learning (PBL) encompasses ideals about the mechanisms for learning and also specific instructional strategies. It was useful to examine educational approaches separately to understand which ones have been prominently named and developed in the literature.

The 10-year timeframe was selected for two reasons. First, mapping the state of knowledge in the first decade of the 21st century could serve as a baseline for subsequent comparisons and more targeted systematic reviews. Secondly, significant changes and debates occurred during this period. For example, the entry-level professional degree was raised to the post-baccalaureate level in the United States in 1999, raising questions about what educational approaches and teaching methods could best create practitioners who 'function as autonomous professionals, engage in higher levels of clinical decision-making, demonstrate and articulate the unique value of occupational therapy and [are] able to establish OT programmes in areas where OT services have not been previously offered' (Steib 1999, p4). Similar debates arose in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia (Allen et al 2001, Thibeault 2006).

A systematic mapping review, an early phase in a broad model of systematic review research, was selected because it 'may be the only way of bringing together the width of literature on a given subject, at a given time' (Hammick 2005, p2). This can guide researchers when subsequently identifying narrower sets of questions about efficacy and conducting critical appraisals of research findings. The goal of this mapping is not to identify best practices based on research evidence, but to classify and describe research and non-research papers to visualise gaps and guide future inquiry. …

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