Incorporating EBP Into Fieldwork Education

Incorporating evidence-based practice (EBP) into fieldwork is essential to help students understand the value of EBP and its application to clinical practice. Fieldwork students are required to demonstrate use of evidence during fieldwork and are evaluated on this criteria on the Fieldwork Performance Evaluation. There are many ways that EBP can be incorporated into fieldwork to ensure that students develop skills and knowledge to apply evidence within a particular practice setting.

Strategies for Fieldwork Educators include:

  • Incorporate evidence-based practice into fieldwork objectives to ensure that students are keeping up to date with evidence and applying it to practice. Read examples of site-specific objectives.

  • Assign reading and encourage students to use the following resources to learn more about a topic area, incorporate evidence-based assessments and interventions, justify services provided, or plan a presentation.
    • The comprehensive Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines (for purchase) define the domain and process of occupational therapy services and provide case studies, selected assessments, and recommendations for interventions. Updated every 5 years with the latest evidence findings, the guidelines present best practices and summaries of evidence for intervention for a variety of practice areas.
    • Special issues of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy (member benefit or subscription) include scholarly systematic reviews summarizing the evidence within the scope of occupational therapy practice and based on a focused question. Students can use the articles for a comprehensive review of the topic, including information on background research, methodology, and implications for practice.
    • Critically Appraised Topics (CATs) (member benefit) provide an "at-a-glance" synthesis of a group of articles selected and critically appraised for focused-question systematic reviews. CATs include a summary of key findings and the bottom line for occupational therapy practice. The resources can be used to provide students with a brief, easily digestible, but comprehensive review of the evidence for a specific condition or practice area that can be applied to clinical practice.
  • Encourage students to start a Journal Club or organize and lead existing Journal Club sessions using the Journal Club Toolkit (member benefit). The toolkit offers documents and resources for planning and implementing a Journal Club. Sample fliers, worksheets, references, critical appraisal guides, a statistical reference sheet, and continuing education documentation are provided to reduce the preparation time needed for a Journal Club session.

  • Guide students through treatment planning using EBP. The process can include supervising students to do the following: familiarize themselves with a new client, find and report on evidence for interventions that may be appropriate for the client, collect pretest data, implement the intervention(s), collect posttest data, and report the results.

  • Ask students to present or lead a team discussion that focuses on evidence as it applies to the practice setting, such as:
    • An evidence-based case study
    • Evidence to support current practices and/or evidence that could be better utilized in the setting
    • Updates on the process and/or requirements of documentation or standardized assessments
    • A collection of pre- and posttest evidence data (i.e., standardized testing, intervention progress)
Beyond team discussions, encourage students to look into opportunities for presentations in the local community, at state conferences, or at AOTA’s Annual Conference.
  • Collaborate with students to write a Critically Appraised Paper on a relevant topic through AOTA’s Evidence Exchange (member benefit). The Evidence Exchange is a central repository for Critically Appraised Papers (CAPs), at-a-glance summaries of the findings and methods of individual articles. Students are encouraged to collaborate with faculty or clinicians to submit a CAP, which will undergo a review process and, if accepted, is posted on AOTA’s website. Participation in the Evidence Exchange can help students better understand how to critically appraise a peer-reviewed article for use in evidence-based practice. Sources of articles to consider for developing a CAP can be found in the reference lists of the systematic reviews published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy and online Critically Appraised Topics.

  • If time allows and there is a need at your setting, involve students in developing evidence-based practice guidelines, protocols, or recommendations specific to your setting and client population. The process can include conducting a literature search, developing the resource, trialing in practice, and sharing with practitioners. Students can utilize AOTA’s Practice Guidelines Series and other evidence-based practice publications to inform the development process.

To learn more, visit the EBP and Research section of AOTA’s website and explore EBP publications by practice area:

If you have any questions related to using EBP resources on fieldwork, contact

Learn more about using AOTA’s EBP resources in education.