In September 2020, we partnered with Coventry University to “exchange” Occupational Therapy students in the role of student lecturers. Gemma & Lucy from UW went to CU for 8 weeks, and Peggy & Swayta from CU became part of the UW family for 12 weeks.
“At the start, I expected it to be straightforward and simple. I thought it would be organised and planned out, enabling me to have almost a set of instructions as to what was expected from us over the period of time as a student lecturer and how to meet the goals set by the Practice Educators. This could not be further from the truth as, not only is the lecturer role quite chaotic, but we were also expected to plan and organise our own time and work this structure out for ourselves.“Peggy, 3rd Year Student
This could not be further from the truth as, not only is the lecturer role quite chaotic, but students were also expected to plan and organise their own time and work this structure out for themselves. This proved to be of benefit though, as all of the students agreed that this placement was very empowering.
“We recognised quite quickly that the skills we have learnt throughout our degree were transferrable to this experience, highlighting the diversity of Occupational Therapy. We were able to view the students as occupational beings with a need for balance, especially amidst a global pandemic, starting University under uncertain circumstances.”Gemma, 3rd Year Occupational Therapy Student
This proved to be of benefit though, as all of the students agreed that this placement was very empowering. "We recognised quite quickly that the skills we have learnt throughout our degree were transferrable to this experience, highlighting the diversity of Occupational Therapy. We were able to view students as “occupational beings” with a need for balance, especially amidst a global pandemic, and first year students starting University under uncertain circumstances."
Both pairs of student lecturers independently identified a need to support the health and wellbeing of the new intake of first year students. They did this through setting up and facilitating a successful online OT café at Coventry, as a support forum to enhance wellbeing and introduce students to each other as most of the learning was facilitated online and the cohort size was large. At Worcester, using occupational therapy skills and building a therapeutic relationship with the first year students enabled the student lecturers to find barriers that affected their learning and helped them to develop a study skills group intervention that addressed those barriers. These opportunities allowed all of the students to consolidate their learning to date and share their knowledge with others, which had a positive impact upon their professional development and confidence.
“At first, it was really hard to understand what the occupational therapy role was or how it would look in a university setting as a student lecturer. When you think of a lecturer, you assume it is just teaching students about a certain subject. However, when I started doing more reflections I realised that I was being an occupational therapist because I understood that if ‘learning’ is the main occupation of a university student then as an occupational therapist I have an opportunity to enhance, develop, change or adapt the ways of learning. The content will always remain the same because I am still a lecturer and need to cover certain learning outcomes. However, when I put my occupational therapy hat on, I used my occupational therapy knowledge and clinical reasoning to change the way of learning, which is what I did in developing a hand anatomy practical session.”Swayta, 3rd year Occupational Therapy Student
The placement wasn't without challenges - there was a slight glitch that Worcester emails not appearing to be delivered to Coventry email addresses and vice versa, resulting in students having to use personal emails to communicate which made it hard to maintain boundaries. Where students did not have access to module information, preparing for lectures especially within the first few weeks felt very rushed and last minute.
The video above was created by Peggy & Swayta to give students some idea of what to expect in future placements. The staff thoroughly enjoyed having student lecturers to support their teaching, and the first-year students appreciated the viewpoint that senior students could bring them.