Graduation Date


Document Type

Capstone Project

Project Type

Mixed Methods

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

Program Chair

Julia Wilbarger, PhD, OTR/L

Faculty Advisor

Laura Hess, PhD, OTR/L


On March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially announced that COVID-19 was a “pandemic” (Kapasia et al., 2020). The impact of COVID-19 on higher education has been substantial. Teaching has changed from traditional in-person, classroom formats to distance learning platforms. As students experienced unprecedented disruptions, faculty faced challenges to provide high-quality teaching and build learning communities with their students. Preliminary global research on the COVID-19 impact on higher education has revealed mental health implications including anxiety and depression (Cao et al., 2020). Additionally, the transition to distance learning has hindered college students’ motivation, academic performance, and educational plans. For example, “the displacement from face-to-face courses has led to occupational injustices as students have lost access to many of the occupations involved in their student role” including educational and social participation (Keptner & McCarthy, 2020, p. 1). The pandemic has caused isolation, disconnection from resources and challenges with productivity related to teaching and learning (Markowitz, 2020).

The purpose of this research is to examine how COVID-19 has reshaped the occupation of educational engagement and health management in higher education within the population of occupational therapy students and faculty at Dominican University, through survey and interview methods. Our research questions are: (1) Among OT students and faculty from Dominican University how has COVID-19 impacted occupational engagement in distance learning from spring 2020 to fall 2020? And (2) What strategies have been successfully employed to foster meaningful occupational engagement in teaching and learning?

Available for download on Monday, December 02, 2024