Examining the development of occupational therapy international students’ interpersonal skills across a four-year undergraduate course.

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Introduction:Interpersonal skills such as active listening, verbal communication, andbody language are essential competencies for occupational therapists to demonstrate.Occupational therapy students are expected to demonstrate these competencies onplacements, which is an area that international students often experience difficulties.Objectives:To investigate if international occupational therapy students enrolled athigh year levels (3rdand 4thyear) had more proficient interpersonal skills than inter-national students at lower year levels (1stand 2ndyear) in a 4-year undergraduateprofessional degree course.Method:First, second, third and fourth year occupational therapy undergraduateinternational students who spoke English as second language (n=282) enrolled atone Australian university completed the following interpersonal skill measures: theListening Styles Profile (LSP-R), the Active-Empathic Listening Scale (AELS), and theInterpersonal Communication Competence Scale (ICCS). The differences in students’interpersonal skills by year level of study were examined using univariate regressionand ANOVA contrast tests.Results:Third year international occupational therapy students’ AELS processingscores (b=0.31, SE=0.15), AELS responding scores (b=0.28, SE=0.12), and ICCSempathy scores (b=0.18, SE=0.09) were the highest across 4 year levels, and weresignificantly higher compared to first year students (P<0.05). Fourth year interna-tional occupational therapy students’ LSP-R relational listening scores (b=0.24,SE=0.10), and third year students’ ICCS self-disclosure scores (b=0.24, SE=0.12)were the lowest across the 4 year levels, and were significantly lower than first yearstudents (P<0.05).Conclusion:This study indicates that international students who are enrolled athigher year levels of study have more proficient interpersonal skills, compared to stu-dents at lower year levels. It is recommended that learning opportunities that targetinterpersonal skills should be incorporated into the curriculum of academic educationprograms to better prepare international students embarking on fieldwork placementsand being prepared as new graduates
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57
Number of pages1
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2019
EventOccupational Therapy Australia National Conference and Exhibition 2019: Together Towards Tomorrow - International Convention Centre, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 10 Jul 201912 Jul 2019
Conference number: 28th


  • students
  • Occupational therapy education

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