OT students think outside the box in creating patient educational resources, relating their assignments to course content, and considering the needs of older adults.

As professors plan for the semester, they may think about how can they make an assignment more engaging and meaningful for the students (and themselves, to be honest). An additional learning aspect a professor may consider when creating an assignment is Universal Design of Learning (UDL). UDL allows students to have flexibility in the ways they participate in a class and demonstrate an understanding of objectives. 

Concepts to consider

In occupational therapy, these are concepts to consider with working with clients, as well as what I consider for assignments in class. In OT 660 Clinical Reasoning: Gerontology, students are asked to create three to four patient education resources relating to the weekly content, such as:

  • Low vision
  • Hearing loss
  • Productive aging
  • Energy conservation
  • Community mobility

Students are taught that when they provide information to older adults, they need to take into consideration the needs of their audience. These considerations are especially important when providing written material. Some of these considerations include:

  • High contrast
  • Easily readable font
  • Bolding or underlining a word (not italicizing)
  • Use of bullets
  • Ensuring material is at the 5th- to 8th-grade reading level

One goal of this assignment is to transfer what students have learned in class and from their textbooks to meaningful information for their client. Students have access to the handouts they created as well as their classmates’ work to be used in future practice as occupational therapists.

Students put UDL into action

So, this semester, I challenged students to really think outside of the box when creating these educational resources. And the students hit it out of the park! I enjoyed grading these assignments to see what new ideas the students came up with. The students did an exceptional job of considering what the diagnosis or deficit may be and how an educational resource could best be presented to a client. For example, when creating a resource for someone with low vision, students included audio as part of it – podcasts, a radio commercial, or a PowerPoint with a video or voiceover. They created social media posts, YouTube videos, a website, Canva handouts, postcards, trifold brochures, and a handout in Braille.

Not only did this make grading the assignments more engaging for me, but students also enjoyed the process and the creativity of the assignments. In regards to ensuring the material was at a lower grade level, one student said “It helped me grow in my ability to simplify what I am trying to say which will help me so much in my future practice”. Multiple students also commented on enjoying the creativity of the assignment. A student stated, “This experience allowed me to think outside of the box about what types of educational material would actually benefit the population at hand.”

Example resources for individuals with hearing or vision loss

Example Handout
Example postcard

Learn more about occupational therapy at CUW

Wherever you’re at in your journey into occupational therapy, Concordia University has options for you. We offer programs at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels.

As a Christ-centered university, our program will help you advance in your calling. By learning from experienced therapists in a hands-on environment and developing a foundation in ethical leadership, students can grow in excellence.