Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Judith Olson

Second Advisor

Anne Hull


A study was conducted to evaluate student participation in a community-based service learning experience offered in the Masters of Occupational Therapy (OT) Program at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) to identify how students’ perceptions of their self-efficacy change after they participate in a service-learning experience. A mixed methods case study approach was used to evaluate student’s perceptions of self efficacy and identify characteristics of the service learning experience that contribute to improved perceived self-efficacy. A paired samples t test was conducted to compare student confidence levels before and after participation in the service learning project. The analysis of total scores indicates an improvement in confidence after participation in the experiential learning activities offered on each campus. There was a significant difference in the total scores for pretest (M= 460, SD= 64.4) and posttest (M=526, SD= 54.7) in student confidence levels (t(55)=-9.6, p=.000).

Qualitative data indicated that it was the interaction of the prerequisite conditions that created the optimal opportunity for growth and improvement of self-confidence. It is when these opportunities are presented that the development of professional characteristics is facilitated. Through carefully facilitated experiences, and subsequent enhanced professional characteristic development the students then develop core professional attributes. Collectively, the development of these core professional attributes contributes to a greater sense of self-efficacy and improved clinical reasoning for participants. The results of this study were used to construct an emerging educational model that can be used to design educational experiences that will facilitate the 5 development of professional self-efficacy and improved clinical reasoning in occupational therapy students.

It is proposed that the model presented can support occupational therapy educators in the development of curricular experiences that will better support the development of clinical reasoning for occupational therapy students. By emphasizing the development of professional self-efficacy in occupational therapy students, educators can support and maintain the use of occupation as a central philosophy and core value of our profession. By supporting the development of core professional attributes early in education, faculty can support the development of future practitioners who will maintain the use of occupation as the core of our profession, and will ensure that future occupational therapists do continue to use occupation as central to their practice.


Dissertation presented in partial fulfillment of the degree of Doctor of Education at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences.