Curricular Themes

Four curriculum themes were developed to operationalize the mission and reflect current perspectives in health care, as presented by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). These themes are as follows.

Occupational Perspective of Human Nature and Health

This theme reflects the profession's focus on occupation. In this usage, occupation refers to the normal activities that we engage in every day, and which have both a purpose or goal and a uniquely personal meaning to each individual. Development of this perspective requires that therapists look at daily activities and how they reflect life goals and personal perspective of independence.

Critical Reasoning and Independent Learning

This theme is consistent with the OT Program's desire to create reflective practitioners. Critical reasoning and independent learning are necessary for new health care practitioners to survive in a rapidly changing, increasingly technological health care delivery system and culturally diverse society.

Competent Service Delivery

This theme speaks to the importance of both conceptual and technical competence in the delivery of health care. Graduates of health care programs must provide safe, creative intervention that is based on evidence of effectiveness as shown in the health care research.

Socially Responsive Practice

This theme addresses the belief that the role of professionals is to use their knowledge and skills in service to society first and foremost. It also addresses the need for professionals to be actively involved in the support of their professions.

Program Goals

The five curriculum themes form the bedrock of the OT Program's goals which reflect new health care directions, new directions for the profession, and accepted professional education theory and practice.


The graduate will demonstrate entry level competencies and professional behaviors necessary for safe, effective, and innovative occupational therapy service delivery in existing and emerging areas of practice. To this end, the curriculum will foster:

P1. Development of the clinical reasoning skills as related to the OT Process, the OTPF, and lifespan performance.

P2. An understanding of the basic tenets of occupational therapy including the use of occupation to promote engagement in meaningful daily routines and roles across the lifespan that result in health, wellbeing, and balance.

P3. An understanding of the application of occupational therapy theory, frames of reference, practice models across contexts and the lifespan through comparing and contrasting uses among clients across the lifespan.

P4. An understanding of the underlying sciences that impact occupational performance including application of concepts from anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, psychology, sociology to the occupational therapy process.

P5. An understanding of the impact of occupational engagement on health and wellbeing across the lifespan.

P6. Skills necessary to perform multiple aspects of delivering safe and relevant occupational therapy screening, evaluation, assessment, intervention, discharge, and referral across contexts and the lifespan.

P7. The skills applied during the OT evaluation process including use of standardized and non-standardized tools, screening tools, evaluation of occupational performance areas, use of the occupational profile, interpretation of test scores, and documentation of findings.

P8. The skills applied during the OT intervention process including application of theoretical principals, use of protocols, activity analysis, use of the OTPF, and selection of interventions to remediate/compensate.


The graduate will demonstrate an understanding of leadership characteristics and competencies necessary to engage in professional activities at the organizational, local, state, national and international levels for the profession of occupational therapy through an exploration of various roles and personal leadership potential. To this end, the curriculum will foster:

L1. An understanding of leadership characteristics needed in various roles and contexts.

L2. An understanding of application of leadership skills including supervision of COTA’s, education of team members, advocacy, consulting, conflict resolution, and entrepreneurship.

L3. Development of a personal awareness of leadership strengths and areas of need.

L4. Leadership characteristics necessary to lead and influence practice for all levels of professional activity in the occupational therapy process across a variety of contexts including clinical and community settings.

L5. An understanding of the impact internal and external influences have on occupational therapy in the changing healthcare market including implementation of regulations and requirements that abide by licensure, certification, and registration.


The graduate will understand the basic adult education principles and application in a variety of clinical, community, educational, and professional contexts. To this end, the curriculum will foster:

E1. Learning adult education theory as related to content, motivation, and context, across a variety of situational circumstances.

E2. Learning basic instructional and media techniques to facilitate the educational process,

E3. Development of basic instructional skills related to style, voice projection, flow of content, personal appearance, and ability to engage an audience, for effective professional presentation.

E4. An appreciation for the roles that culture, personal presentation, and a positive environment play in maximizing learner responsiveness.

E5. An ability to structure/design an educational program with well-defined purposes and organizational threads for a specific population.

E6. Development of skills necessary to implement an educational evaluation plan.


The graduate will understand and use research and scientific inquiry to support practice and apply to education, leadership, and advocacy for and professionalization of the field. To this end, the curriculum will foster:

R1. Understanding of how research/evidence reflects the critical analysis of significant issues in our field.

R2. Understanding of how knowledge of research is essential for best practice, advocacy for our profession, and further development of evidentiary support for the field.

R3. Understanding of national and international impact of research on occupational therapy practice and emerging practice areas.

R4. Understanding, describing, and applying basic scientific inquiry to occupational therapy practice and other roles within the profession, education, and/or administration.

R5. Development of scientific inquiry skills that support an evidence-based perspective and approach to all evaluation tools and interventions.

R6. Development of effective use of research methodology from establishing a research question to dissemination of results.

R7. Development of appropriate aspects of scientific inquiry including: quantitative and qualitative methodologies, tools to insure valid responses, and appropriate interpretation of results.

R8. Development of effective use of research methodology applied to the full OT process.

R9. Understanding of the need for all occupational therapists to use research methodology and become practice-scholars, incorporating holistic evidentiary support for interventions.

R10. The application of current evidence to occupational therapy emerging niche and practice trends.

Professional Socialization:

The graduate will understand the importance of professional socialization to the field to increase autonomy and credibility, as well as to articulate and promote the distinct value of occupational therapy to others.  To this end the curriculum will foster:

PS1. Acceptance and personal integration of the values and ethics of the field in one’s own character.

PS2. Recognition of the responsibilities associated with professionalism, such as an attitude of lifelong learning, a desire to disseminate and promote new learning in the field, and a willingness to support OT education as a fieldwork educator.

PS3. Recognition of the importance of current developments, trends, and issues that may affect the field. Taking a proactive stance on these elements, through reading journal articles, letter-writing, talking to legislators, and active participation in State and National professional organization activities.

PS4. Recognition of the connection between didactic coursework, fieldwork, and clinical environment.

PS5. Recognition of the value of collaboration with other professionals to improve patient/client outcomes, enhance educational experiences, disseminate new learning, and to generally improve the health care delivery system.

PS6. Recognition of the levels of professional organizations, including global, national, and state, as a unique system that operates to build the face value of occupational therapy through its vision, educational standards, advocacy activities, and practitioner support, requiring individual member support for greatest efficacy.

This program in occupational therapy is a revision of a highly successful longer curriculum that has produced graduates with excellent skills, who are serving in the Midwest and other parts of the country. We anticipate that this revised version of the program will be equally successful and well-received by the West Michigan community.

Page last modified April 20, 2020