Date of Award



© 2017 Sunny Winstead

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Carey Clark

Second Advisor

Peter Fifield

Third Advisor

Vicki Smith


The aims of this study were: a) to discover which strategies community-based occupational therapists (OTs) find most effective for developing the competencies that have been identified as unique to community-based occupational therapy (OT) practice, b) to examine respondents’ perceptions of the effectiveness of their academic training and of current professional development resources, and c) to explore respondents’ suggestions for improving academic training and continuing education for OTs in community-based practice. Data collection was completed using an electronic survey that targeted members of the American Occupational Therapy Association who have experience in community-based OT. The survey was completed by 81 OTs with a wide range of practice experience. Across six competency categories, most respondents reported self-directed learning to be the most effective strategy for developing the skills needed for community-based OT practice. Professional development strategies such as formal OT education, continuing education, workplace trainings, and mentorship were chosen less frequently than self-directed learning. Most respondents rated their formal OT education and existing professional development options as either average or effective, however they also had many suggestions for improvement. The most common suggestions included increasing community-based fieldwork, increasing the role of community-based practitioners in the education process through guest lecturing and adjunct teaching, increasing mentorship options, and providing more education specific to the knowledge needed to practice and advance in diverse community-based settings. The findings of this study suggest that experienced OTs in community-based practice use self-directed learning as a primary strategy for developing competencies. The findings also suggest there may be more OT academic programs and continuing education providers can do to prepare and support OTs in community-based practice.


Ed.D. Dissertation