Inquiry-based learning: An instructional alternative for occupational therapy education.

Centre for Health Promotion Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Occupational Therapy International (Impact Factor: 0.67). 08/2001; 8(3):198-209. DOI: 10.1002/oti.146
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT An inquiry-based learning (IBL) approach was used as the model of instruction in one of three sections offered annually to large introductory occupational therapy classes in a Canadian university during 1994/5, 1995/6, 1996/7. Students' final grades in this pre-entry course form part of the grade point average on which admission to the BSc OT programme is based. The IBL model was employed to (1) increase the amount of student-directed learning, (2) increase the amount of independent problem-solving, (3) increase student-instructor interaction within the learning situation, and (4) reduce the number of in-class hours for students. This study is an evaluation of whether students from the IBL sections would subsequently do as well as those from other sections in selected junior professional courses. Students from the three IBL sections (n=47) were peer matched to students who had completed other sections of the introductory course, but were part of the same admission cohort (n=68). Their grades in three junior professional courses were compared at the end of their first year in the BSc OT programme. Results indicated that students from the IBL sections did at least as well as those from other sections where a different instructional approach was used, and those from the IBL sections in 1994/5 and 1996/7 each did significantly better on two of the junior professional courses used as the outcome measure: therapeutic occupation and assessment and evaluation techniques. Students reported that the IBL experience stimulated them to learn more about the field, helped them develop problem-solving skills in relation to occupational therapy, and enabled them to learn more about career opportunities in occupational therapy. Mature students were more positive about the IBL approach than students in their first year of university.