Peer interactions and their benefits during occupational therapy practice placement education

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Peer collaboration is believed to assist in the development of critical thinking and reflection skills. However, collaboration may be difficult to achieve in the practice placement environment because students often experience placements away from peers. This study aimed to establish the frequency and types of peer contact experienced by first year occupational therapy students during practice placement education, in order to identify any benefits from interactions during this time and to establish any unmet needs that may arise from restricted peer contact.

The data from responses to a survey by 53 of a cohort of 121 students demonstrated the diversity and disparity in the opportunities available. Many interactions provided support and reassurance and made a positive contribution to learning. Return-to-university days during practice placements and regional support groups to facilitate collaboration were suggested.

The analysis of an online discussion board made available to all 121 students showed that only 12 students contributed to the discussions. The perceived benefits included contact with peers and practical support from tutors. Improved education and increased input from tutors were suggested as methods to encourage more effective use of this tool, in order to meet the learning and social needs of students with limited opportunities for peer interaction during placement modules.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at

    Submissions can be made at

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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