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Level I Fieldwork

I. Definition and Purpose

The AOTA Standards describe the goal of Level I Fieldwork "to introduce students to the fieldwork experience, and develop a basic comfort level with an understanding of the needs of clients." Level I Fieldwork is not intended to develop independent performance, but to "include experiences designed to enrich didactic coursework through directed observation and participation in selected aspects of the occupational therapy process."

Services may be provided to a variety of populations through a variety of settings. Experiences may include those directly related to occupational therapy, as well as other situations to enhance an understanding of the developmental stages, tasks, and roles of individuals throughout the life span. Day care centers, schools, neighborhood centers, hospice, homeless shelters, community mental health centers, and therapeutic activity or work centers are among the many possible sites. Level I Fieldwork may also include services management and administrative experiences in occupational therapy settings, community agencies, or environmental analysis experiences. Populations may include disabled or well populations; age-specific or diagnosis-specific clients.

Qualified personnel for supervision of Level I Fieldwork may include, but are not limited to, academic or fieldwork educators, occupational therapy practitioners initially certified nationally, psychologists, physician assistants, teachers, social workers, nurses, physical therapists, social workers, etc. The supervisors must be knowledgeable about occupational therapy and cognizant of the goals and objectives of the Level I Fieldwork experience.

  1. Objectives

Objectives of Level I Fieldwork may vary significantly from one academic institution to another. These variations occur as a result of differences in individual academic institutional missions, programmatic philosophical base, curriculum design and resources, etc. As a result, the individual academic institutions should provide information regarding the specific didactic relationship and should provide objectives for the experience. Fieldwork educators should determine if the resources of their facilities are adequate to meet the objectives of the educational institution, and then apply the objectives to the fieldwork setting.

Fieldwork objectives should reflect role delineation between professional and technical level students as specified by The Guide to OT Practice, AJOT, Vol.53, No.3. In the event a facility provides Level I Fieldwork experiences to both levels of students, separate objectives and learning experiences should be utilized, as developed by the academic program faculty. Students should be evaluated using these objectives.

In instances where students will have a prolonged/consecutive fieldwork experience in the same facility, the objectives should also reflect a sequential orientation and move from concrete to conceptual or from simple to more complex learning activities. In the event that the student will rotate through a variety of settings it is recommended that a master list of objectives be developed that demonstrate a developmental learning continuum and indicate which objectives/learning experiences have been provided in previous experiences.

Schedule design of Level I Fieldwork will depend on the type of setting and the curriculum of the academic institution. Options include, but are not limited to, full days for one-half a term, full days in alternating weeks for one term, half days for one term, or one week.

Academic Institution

  • Identify course content areas to be enhanced by Level I Fieldwork experiences.
  • Develop general goals that clearly reflect the purpose of the experience and level of performance to be achieved.
  • Assure that objectives reflect the appropriate role of an OT or OTA student.
  • Sequence the objectives from concrete to conceptual or from simple to increasing complexity.
  • Identify facilities that may be able to provide the necessary learning experiences.
  • Share the objectives with the fieldwork educators and ask them to identify those objectives that could be met in their facility.
  • Discuss and coordinate fieldwork administration issues, such as scheduling, work load, report deadlines, etc.
  • Collaborate with fieldwork educators to clearly identify the skill levels necessary for successful completion of Level I Fieldwork experience.
  • Develop an evaluation form and protocol.

Fieldwork Education Center

  • Evaluate administrative aspects of the program to determine the feasibility of providing education experiences of high quality while maintaining the effectiveness of services. Some considerations are: providing the necessary supervision, scheduling learning experiences, and staff attitudes toward.
  • Review objectives and learning experiences with academic representatives to assure that they address the Level I Fieldwork objectives of the program.
  • Review the evaluation form and associated protocols and seek any necessary clarification prior to its implementation.
  • Review the Level I Fieldwork objectives and the evaluation form to determine if the learning experiences can be provided at your fieldwork agency and if they are compatible with the philosophy of the program.
  • In collaboration with the academic program faculty, identify, and design, if possible, specific learning activities which will meet Level I objectives.
  • Those agencies providing fieldwork for both the professional and technical level student should have different learning experiences designed to clearly reflect role delineation.

AOTA Commission on Education (COE) and Fieldwork Issues Committee (FWIC)
Amended and Approved by FWIC 11/99 and COE 12/99