Effects of an Experiential Learning Program on the Clinical Reasoning and Critical Thinking Skills of Occupational Therapy Students

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Abstract:

This study examined the effects of participation in a 1-week, experiential, hands-on learning program on the critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills of occupational therapy (OT) students. A quasi-experimental, nonrandomized pre- and post-test design was used with a sample of 25 students. The students had completed three semesters of didactic lecture coursework in a master's level OT educational program prior to participation in a hands-on therapy program for children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy. Changes in critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills were evaluated using the following dependent measures: Self-Assessment of Clinical Reflection and Reasoning (SACRR) and the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST). Changes in pretest and posttest scores on the SACRR and the CCTST were statistically significant (p<0.05) following completion of the experiential learning program. This study supports the use of hands-on learning to develop clinical reasoning and critical thinking skills in healthcare students, who face ever more diverse patient populations upon entry-level practice. Further qualitative and quantitative investigations are needed to support the results of this study and determine which components of experiential learning programs are essential for developing clinical reasoning and critical thinking skills in future allied health professionals.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Allied Health is the official publication of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP). The Journal is the only interdisciplinary allied health periodical, publishing scholarly works related to research and development, feature articles, research abstracts and book reviews. Readers of the Journal comprise allied health leaders, educators, faculty and students.
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