What is it about?

Exploring factors of importance for how well occupational therapy students perform, and for how satisfied they are with their study program.

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Why is it important?

Teachers in higher education want students to thrive and be satisfied, but also to perform well. As a first step towards investigating how these ends can be achieved, this cross-sectional study points toward some factors that seem to contribute. Prior higher education was associated with better average exam grades, whereas spending less time on self-studies, and - interestingly - having occupational therapy as first educational choice at the time of enrolment, were associated with lower satisfaction with the course.

Perspectives

I think having more experience from higher education in general is helpful to students, as such experience helps them "acculturate" - they gradually feel more at ease with the standards and expectations they face. In turn, this is likely to help them perform better at exams. The finding that those initially most strongly motivated (those who had occupational therapy as their highest prioritized line of study) felt less satisfied with the course is intriguing. Perhaps we can look at this from two sides. Firstly, those who are initially most strongly motivated may decrease motivation and satisfaction over time. What can explain this? Too much emphasis on theory? In general, I believe dissatisfaction is a product of positive expections meeting a reality that is not so positive. Second, why are those who initially wanted another line of study more satisfied with the currently undertaken occupational therapy course? It may be that these students are the really ambitious ones; those who originally applied for more prestigeous programs. These students may, after a period of adjustment to the new course, be more prone to be content and to find interesting opportunities within the occupational therapy program.

Professor Tore Bonsaksen
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences

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This page is a summary of: Predictors of academic performance and education programme satisfaction in occupational therapy students, British Journal of Occupational Therapy, February 2016, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0308022615627174.
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