DMU O.T.D. Philosophy

What view of occupational therapy informs the DMU OTD curriculum?

Occupation is the basic tenet upon which occupational therapy is based. “In occupational therapy, occupations refer to the everyday activities that people do as individuals, in families, and with communities to occupy time and bring meaning and purpose to life. Occupations include things people need to, want to, and are expected to do” (World Federation of Occupational Therapy [WFOT], 2021, para. 2).

The purpose of occupational therapy is to support and promote the mind, body, and spirit health of individuals and populations by enhancing the ability to engage in meaningful occupations that support participation in all aspects of life, which we believe is a fundamental right of all people (AOTA, 2017).

Occupational therapists focus on occupations as not only the ultimate goal and outcome of therapy but also the means by which therapeutic interventions are provided. With a rich understanding and expertise, occupational therapists utilize the power of occupation for health promotion and wellness, remediation, health maintenance, disease and injury prevention, and compensation or adaptation. Occupational therapists help others live life to its fullest.

What are our fundamental beliefs about human beings and how they learn?

At Des Moines University, learning is transformative, integrative, active, collaborative, and inclusive; it is a dynamic process that continues to unfold and build. Transformative learning theory focuses on adult education and the idea that learners can adjust their thinking based upon new information through critical thinking and reflection. This means that we provide students opportunities to learn about new perspectives, to question their assumptions, and to engage in critical discussion and reflection. In order to promote this transformation of our students, we understand the importance of creating a learning environment that is safe and positive and that encourages deep learning experiences, learning through errors, purposeful practice, and resilience.

We intentionally, iteratively, and spirally integrate coursework, asking students to continually revisit and build upon their prior knowledge in order to enhance and deepen their learning and work toward building their skills and confidence as occupational therapy professionals. This happens through a learning process that is active, meaning that it occurs through doing. We work to engage students and create lasting change, enhancing and preparing them as occupational therapists who are lifelong learners.

We understand that each of our students is an individually unique, adult learner. Because of this, we align our curriculum and our courses based upon the principles of andragogy, or adult learning theory. Our students bring their unique educational and life experiences to DMU in order to create a rich and inclusive learning environment. These experiences are tools that enhance learning and will be the basis for some of the learning activities that occur across the curriculum. Our students are encouraged to be self-directed and to bring their personal motivations for learning, using faculty as guides and facilitators during the process. Our curriculum is intentional in connecting learning to real life occupational therapy practice to enhance student motivation and understanding of how learning impacts their future practice.

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2020). Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process- Fourth Edition. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 74(Suppl_2), 7412410010p1–7412410010p87.

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2017). Philosophical base of occupational therapy. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(Suppl. 2), 7112410045.
Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating significant learning experiences. Jossey-Bass.
World Federation of Occupational Therapy. (2021). About occupational therapy

Scroll to Top