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OTHY100 Foundations of Occupational Therapy

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Occupational therapists work to effect change in individuals, community groups or systems, therefore methods of measuring this change are necessary. In this unit, measurement is presented within a framework of Evidence Based Practice (EBP). Basic concepts of measurement including validity, reliability, applicability and practicability of measurement tools used in both research and practice settings, are introduced in this unit. Students will develop skills in appraising the quality of measurement tools commonly used in practice, according to set criteria. A two-week block Professional Practice Placement provides opportunities to observe and experience occupational therapy measurement tools and approaches in practice.

The aim of this unit is to introduce students to the concept of measurement within the context of evidence based practice and to have the opportunity to observe and experience these measurement tools and approaches in a two week placement.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1Describe and explain the relationship of evidence-based practice (EBP) to occupational therapy practice; (GA4, GA5, GA8) 

LO2 - Differentiate between types and application of measurement applied to occupational therapy; (GA4, GA8) 

LO3 - Describe and apply the concepts of validity and reliability; (GA8) 

LO4 - Collaborate with class members to critically evaluate the application of selected measurement tools instruments within the occupational therapy context; (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA10) 

LO5 Apply basic statistics to analyse measurement outcomes in occupational therapy (GA8, GA10)

LO6 Apply critical appraisal skills in reading journal articles in occupational therapy; (GA8, GA10)

LO7 Demonstrate professional behaviours and interpersonal communication skills including the ability to work autonomously and collaboratively in the occupational therapy context; (GA7, GA9).

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018 developed in this unit are:

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

Standard 1 - Professionalism 

An occupational therapist practices in an ethical, safe, lawful and accountable manner, supporting client health and wellbeing through occupation and consideration of the person and their environment

An occupational therapist:

1.1 complies with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia’s standards, guidelines and Code of conduct 

1.3 maintains professional boundaries in all client and professional relationships 

1.5 practises in a culturally responsive and culturally safe manner, with particular respect to culturally diverse client groups 

1.7 collaborates and consults ethically and responsibly for effective client-centred and interprofessional practice 

1.8 adheres to all work health and safety, and quality requirements for practice 

1.14 manages resources, time and workload accountably and effectively


Standard 2 - Knowledge and learning 

An occupational therapist’s knowledge, skills and behaviours in practice are informed by relevant and contemporary theory, practice knowledge and evidence, and are maintained and developed by ongoing professional development and learning.

An occupational therapist:  

2.1. applies current and evidence-informed knowledge of occupational therapy and other appropriate and relevant theory in practice.

2.3. identifies and applies best available evidence in professional practice and decision making


Standard 3 - Occupational therapy process and practice 

An occupational therapist’s practice acknowledges the relationship between health, wellbeing and human occupation, and their practice is client-centred for individuals, groups, communities and populations. 

An occupational therapist:

3.2 performs appropriate information gathering and assessment when identifying a client's status and functioning, strengths, occupational performance and goals

3.11 evaluates client and service outcomes to inform future practice


Standard 4 - Communication 

Occupational therapists practise with open, responsive and appropriate communication to maximise the occupational performance and engagement of clients and relevant others. 

An occupational therapist:

4.1 communicates openly, respectfully and effectively

4.2. adapts written, verbal and non-verbal communication appropriate to the client and practice context

4.4. uses culturally responsive, safe and relevant communication tools and strategies

4.8. maintains collaborative professional relationships with clients, health professionals and relevant others

4.9. uses effective communication skills to initiate and end relationships with clients and relevant others

4.10. seeks and responds to feedback, modifying communication and/or practice accordingly.



Topics will include:

Measurement in practice

  • Definition of measurement
  • Purpose of measurement
  • Use of measurement in occupational therapy
  • Evidence-based practice


Constructs of validity and reliability

  • What influences measurement validity
  • What influences measurement reliability


Basic statistics 

  • Introduction to basic concepts
  • Application to normal distributions
  • Application to critical reading of the literature
  • Standard errors or measurement


Measurement Tools

  • Type of tool (screening, descriptive, evaluative, predictive)
  • Applicability for purpose
  • Clinical utility / practicability
  • Responsiveness to change
  • Standardisation


Observations and tests in occupational therapy contexts 

  • Application of assessment/measurement tools
  • Data collection


Understanding scores obtained from occupational therapy assessments

  • Understanding derived scores
  • Norm referenced assessments
  • Criterion referenced assessments
  • Self-rated assessments


Evidence based practice skills

  • Locating and selecting relevant literature
  • Reading and interpreting occupational therapy research 
  • Critically appraising validity and reliability of measurement tools


Preparation for Professional Practice Placement

  • Professional behaviours 
  • Self-management
  • Communication

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Modes of delivery for this unit include: lectures, tutorials, case studies and self-directed learning. Consistent with adult learning principles, the teaching and learning strategies used within these modes of delivery will aid in students constructing knowledge and will apply to real-life situations of occupational therapy practice.  Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within group activities, demonstrating respect for the individual as an independent learner.

The lectures will provide a framework for the content of this unit, and situate it within an occupational therapy practice context.  The tutorials will provide opportunity for experiential learning in the areas of measurement, and evidence-based practice skills.  Experiential learning in this unit is an important aspect for learning about how to administer and describe an evidence based measurement / assessment tool, as this type of learning allows students to practice the cognitive, sensory and motor patterns required to become a competent occupational therapist. 

Students will also undertake a two-week block Professional Practice Placement as part of this unit, which will provide an opportunity to observe occupational therapy assessments in practice.  Students will be required to observe an evaluation during this professional practice placement period.  This observational requirement serves as a scaffold for later years of the course, where students move from the observational placement to the provision of occupational therapy services in their later year placements. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and to develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. Such procedures include: one written report (Assessment 1), one written response to a case study (Assessment 2), and one written examination (Assessment 3). Students will be expected to work collaboratively with other students during tutorials, and will be assessed on their ability to work as a group in Assessment 1 and 2, while the examination will be completed individually by students. . Students complete an online Groupwork Module to develop strategies to effectively plan and work collaboratively with peers in group assessment tasks. This will assist students work in groups both in this unit and throughout the course. 

Assessment 1 provides formative feedback, which is defined as an assessment which enable students to see how well they are progressing and which allows educators to provide students with feedback about the achievement of each learning outcome. Student learning around evidence based practice will be scaffolded from Assessment 1, where students learn foundation skills of asking relevant clinical questions, database searching and application to case scenarios, through to Assessment 2, whereby students use these skills to go on to acquire, appraise and apply evidence to an occupational therapy scenario. Students will be assessed on their ability to work autonomously in the final exam (Assessment 3). Therefore, all learning outcomes are assessed, and in the correct developmental sequence.

Professional practice competencies in a one- or two-week block will be assessed by using the modified Student Practice Evaluation Form (modified SPEF-R revised edition). This tool is used to evaluate occupational therapy students undertaking professional practice placements across Australia. It includes both practice educator and student evaluation assessment of professional behaviours and interpersonal communication skills in the occupational therapy context.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1:

Research skills activity sheet: group assignment.  

To demonstrate the ability to ask, acquire and apply evidence.


LO2, LO6, LO7

GA4, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment 2:

Measurement evaluation case study: group assignment. 

To demonstrate the ability to ask, acquire, appraise and apply evidence to an occupational therapy clinical scenario.


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, , GA10

Assessment 3:

Written examination (multiple choice and short answer): individual assessment  

To demonstrate understanding of measurement and evidence-based practice principles.  

50% must pass

LO1, LO2, LO3,LO5

GA4, GA5

Professional Practice Evaluation (one-week or two-week block):

  1. Modified student practice evaluation form revised (SPEF-R; completed by practice educator) – satisfactory rating 
  2. SPEF-R student self-evaluation (completed by student)
  3. Timesheet 
  4. Supervision form 

To demonstrate professional behaviours and communication skills in an occupational therapy context. 

Note: students are required to be verified as "compliant" as per states’ requirements by census date in order to be allocated a placement. 


LO4, LO7

GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Groupwork Module :

Online module with interactive scenarios.

To demonstrate an understanding of strategies to effectively plan for and work with peers in groups when completing group assessments.




Representative texts and references

COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health Measurement INstruments (COSMIN)

Laver Fawcett, A. (2007). Principles of assessment and outcome measurement for occupational therapists and physiotherapists: Theory, skills and applications. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Hoffman, T. Bennett, S., & Del Mar, C. (2017). Evidence-based practice across the health professions. Elsevier.

Law, M., Baum, C., & Dunn, W. (2016). Measuring occupational performance (3rd ed.). Thorofare, New Jersey: Slack Inc.

Liamputtong, P. (2016). Research methods in health: Foundations for evidence-based practice. (3rd ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Portney, L.G., & Watkins, M.P. (2020). Foundations of clinical research: Applications to practice (4th ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall Health.

Taylor, M. C. (2007). Evidence-based practice for occupational therapists. (2nd ed.). Oxford, Blackwell Publishing.

Terwee, C., Bot, S., de Boer, M.R., van der Windt, D., Knol, D. Dekker, J., Bouter, L & de Vet, H. (2007). Quality criteria were proposed for measurement properties of health status questionnaires. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 60, 34-42.

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