Collaborative Research Project with Engineering, Human Factors, Industrial Design and Occupational Therapy

Dr. Winifred Schultz-Krohn and Dr. Luis Arabit

The importance of collaborative and interdisciplinary research projects among and across disciplines is an important step to the university’s goal to excel and lead through fostering cross-disciplinary collaborations that capitalize on the university’s signature strengths. For the past two years, the occupational therapy department embarked on a collaborative project, which included students from Engineering, Human Factors, Industrial Design, and Occupational Therapy. Each discipline initially had students working collaboratively in the Industrial Studies lab to construct a mock-up of the shuttle with an emphasis on creating a shuttle that would serve individuals with multiple needs. Clients from the occupational therapy clinics were invited to tour the shuttle and provided user feedback and suggestions that were incorporated into the plans. Prior to the COVID-19 shelter in place (SIP) restrictions, the design of the shuttle and amenities within the shuttle were conceptualized to support individuals who have various disabling conditions. All students engaged in research addressing requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), emerging technology to support accessibility and inclusion, and helpful amenities within the shuttle. Smaller interdisciplinary teams met to address specific issues followed by weekly meetings for the entire team to review ideas. This process followed the Design Thinking model that served as the framework for this project. An additional hurdle faced was that some student team members were graduating and leaving the team while new students were joining the process during the COVID-19 SIP.

The shift from weekly in-person to weekly zoom meetings was not easy. The ability to work with the physical model was gone and with it the dynamic problem solving that can occur when actual materials are manipulated and reconfigured to allow greater room for an individual who uses a wheelchair to enter the shuttle. This necessitated far greater collaborative work by all students and faculty to share knowledge and information through diagrams, pictures and sketches. A byproduct of this shift to exclusive virtual meetings was actually beneficial for all students from the various disciplines. Instead of working on the physical model, students needed to explain the concepts without using discipline jargon and provide evidence for the concepts. The positive outcome was all students gained a far greater understanding of each other’s discipline in addition to a new found respect for how each discipline offered a vital and unique perspective to the project. An engineering student commented that “I never knew everything an OT could do! It really helped me understand how to work with people who have different abilities.” One of the Industrial Design students noted “Working with the OTs really helped me understand how designs need to fit everyone; how a design can be inclusive from the beginning.” A graduate OT student was asked to reflect on the learning experience from being part of this project and stated “Presenting professionally to other disciplines was a great experience and provided an opportunity to develop skills. It is far different presenting to OT classmates and professors when compared to presenting to other disciplines. I can see the growth in my professional presentation skills.”

Occupational Therapy Professor Receives Community Award

By: Luis Arabit

Dr. Winifred Schultz-Krohn, a professor and former Chair of the Occupational Therapy department at San Jose State University was recently recognized and honored by the Junior League of San Jose on April 23, 2021 at their virtual 52nd Annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon. The Junior League of San Jose is an organization of women committed to developing the potential of women, improving the community, and promoting voluntarism through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Dr. Schultz-Krohn was selected as one of 10 from 60 nominees for her dedicated service and volunteer commitment to Family Supportive Housing (FSH). Dr. Schultz-Krohn has been providing pro bono services and has devoted her time, energy and skills to help others as well as promote equity and inclusion within the community of San Jose. She received the prestigious Crystal Bowl Award for her commitment to voluntarism in the community. Congratulations to Dr. Wynn!

California Governor Gavin Newsom Approves Assembly Bill 829 to Pave the Way for Doctor of Occupational Therapy Degree

The College of Health and Human Sciences is pleased to announce that Governor Gavin Newsom approved Assembly Bill 829 Aug. 30, clearing the way for San Jose State University to offer a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree. “The next step will be for the Chancellor’s Office to approve an executive order that will set the scope and guidelines for the new degree,” says Pamela Richardson, Interim Dean, College of Health and Human Sciences.

In anticipation of the approval of this bill and pending approval by the Chancellor’s Office, faculty in the College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) Department of Occupational Therapy have already begun work on developing curriculum for a doctoral degree.

“They started about a year ago in anticipation of this going through,” said Richardson. “We are looking at what the balance will be between the master’s and doctoral programs.”

The college anticipates admitting the first cohort in 2022-23.

“The OTD gives graduates additional training in research and evidence, more coursework in program evaluation and program development, and will have a capstone project and experience,” Richardson said. “They will have more potential for leadership opportunities.”

A doctoral program also will build a pipeline for future educators.

“Most academic programs hire OTDs as faculty so it creates opportunities for teaching as well,” Richardson said.

The College of Health and Human Sciences already offers one doctoral program with another in development. This year marks the first year SJSU is offering a Doctor of Nursing Practice on its own following six years of offering a joint program with Fresno State University. The College is also working on the final stages of a  doctoral degree in its newly created Department of Audiology. Faculty are in the final stages of developing the curriculum, gaining conditional accreditation and recruiting audiology students for the first cohort to begin Fall 2020.

“These are certainly elevated health degrees and there will be lots of opportunity for interprofessional education,” Richardson said. “It will increase the visibility of our College as producing healthcare leaders across a variety of disciplines.”

She noted that accrediting boards in most healthcare disciplines require programs to provide interprofessional education so that graduates are prepared to work effectively on healthcare teams.

“This gives us an opportunity to build robust doctoral programs and ramp up the amount of collaborative research opportunities for faculty and students,” she said. “It takes research active faculty to appropriately train and mentor doctoral students.”

Occupational Therapy Students Work with Vietnam’s Children’s Hope in Action Clients

While Occupational Students were studying in Vietnam this summer they had the opportunity to work with Children’s Hope in Action (CHIA) a Vietnam non- profit. Professors Gigi Smith and Alison George led a Faculty Led Program to Vietnam this past summer that allowed OT students to become a regular part of working with children with disabilities.

Here is what CHIA had to say about SJSU’s OT students:

“Having OT and PT students attending CHIA is now a regular part of our programming. CHIA is now busy on Monday and Friday every week, and is happy to have the OT and/or PT students
from GGC volunteers come along and work with our staff and the kids at CHIA. This is a great time for the GGC students as well as our staff and children at CHIA. The children are always excited about their activities with the students and the staff are eager to share what the problems the children have and the students are thrilled to find suitable methods or exercises to work with each child’s health condition.”

In June, CHIA was happy to have visit of OT students and teachers from San Jose State University. This is the 3rd year that San Jose State University visited us and worked with our children. Besides working with children with disabilities at CHIA, each year, they come and were humble to join at least one different project to learn about our work within the rural communities. This time we were happy that the group was so excited with “a beach day out” for the kids. All the children, staff and volunteers were so thrilled to have a morning out at Hidden Beach, Hoian.