The Western Michigan University Occupational Therapy Program has been ranked as one of the Top 50 OT programs in the country by US News and World Reports for several years and is home to the Open Journal of Occupational Therapy (OJOT), an open-access journal focused on studies in the OT profession.
The big news for OT programs over the past few years has been the new Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) Standards put out by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The organization changed the standards, both numerically and content-wise, back in 2011, and OT programs need to be able to report on the new version in their upcoming self-study reports. The Western Michigan program had the curriculum mapped to the old standards, but needed a way to see if anything was missing or not being taught since the new standards had been implemented.
Ben Atchison, chair of the OT program, had a vision for this transition, and employed a graduate student from the OT program at Rush University to help figure out which of the new standards were covered with their course objectives. Over the summer of 2013, the program took each syllabus and identified which ACOTE Standards were being covered with each objective. But still, the program needed to see if anything was now missing as far as the standards went.
That’s where eCurriculum HE came in. Atchison had opted to be part of the product launch for OT programs and sent the syllabi along as soon as his team had finished with them. AllofE took the work of entering the course and standard alignment data into the system, so when the program trained on eCurriculum in early November, the reports were ready to run.
Over the next couple weeks, faculty from the program started looking at the system’s reports. It turned out they were missing some of the new standards, and between being able to see what was missing and what was being covered in the classroom, they have been able to address the handful of gaps in plenty of time for their next site visit in 2019. In the meantime, they’ll be able to see how their curriculum changes over the next five years and use that to strengthen it even further.
Atchison said, “It provides us a way to look at what’s covered and [to make sure] that we’re in compliance. It’s so easy to see. But it also shows us how we’re covering [the ACOTE Standards]. That’s the big piece to me.” He went on to explain how seeing how they were covering the standards actually engaged the instructors and professors and got them thinking about how to make their lectures better and better.
The program is transitioning to a doctorate-level degree offering and plans to use eCurriculum to design the new curriculum based on the ACOTE Standards.