Preparation for an uncertain world: international curriculum development for mental health occupational therapy

Katherine Wimpenny, Imogen Gordon, Loren Lewis, Huget Desiron, Hwei Lan Tan, Sarah Roe

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Occupational therapy graduates are entering increasingly complex practice landscapes. Supported by funding from the Thelma Cardwell Research Foundation, WFOT, an international, online learning module involving four countries (UK, South Africa, Belgium, Singapore) was developed and researched with the aim to improve graduates' preparedness for practice. The project offered undergraduates the opportunity to explore a globalised picture of mental health practice, pedagogically designed, to encourage students to critically reflect, engage in problem-solving, develop culturally-sensitive services, take calculated risks, and consider ways and means of extending professional reach.

The paper will:
1. Detail the research process and present the study findings with recommendations for curriculum development.
2. Discuss how a richer understanding of occupational therapy in other contexts, including enhancement of students' intercultural sensitivity and critical self-reflection, equips students to deal with greater levels of complexity in their practice.

Using an Open Moodle platform, 215 final year occupational therapy students engaged in an online discussion forum, drawing on complex scenarios donated by graduate therapists. Case study methodology and mixed methods were used to explore student and staff perspectives about the learning experience.

The study revealed significant increases in intercultural sensitivity amongst students measured pre-and post-project, alongside numerous challenges in engagement for both staff and students. Findings from the study provide opportunity to compare work contexts and pedagogic responses.

Augmented learning opportunities within the curriculum are vital to equip graduates with enhanced agency, and greater resilience for managing complexity to inform the professions role in mental health practices.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 Sept 2017
EventWorld Congress of Occupational Therapy: World Federation of Occupational Therapists - Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: 21 May 201825 May 2018


ConferenceWorld Congress of Occupational Therapy
Country/TerritorySouth Africa
CityCape Town
Internet address


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