What is Conceptual Framework?

Conceptual Frameworks
Lesley Bainbridge, BSR(PT), MEd, PhD
Chair, Joint Accreditation Committee (OTA/PTA)
Associate Principal, College of Health Disciplines
University of British Columbia
What is a conceptual
 A theoretical structure of assumptions, principles, and
rules that holds together the ideas comprising a broad
 A group of concepts that are broadly defined and
systematically organized to provide a focus, a rationale,
and a tool for the integration and interpretation of
 Conceptual frameworks …. provide a foundation and
organization for the educational plan in schools….
 Addresses the why and the how of a curriculum.
They can be simple…..
….or complex
 Think about your curriculum – How is it organized?
What concepts do you focus on? What theories do you
use to inform your curriculum design, implementation
and evaluation?
 Share key thoughts with a colleague sitting near you.
 Share collective thoughts with the large group.
Steps to using conceptual
frameworks to…
 Describe values, philosophy, goals as they apply to the
 Organize educational components of the curriculum
such as content and learning objectives;
 Explain process components of curriculum such as
teaching and assessment approaches;
 Apply theory to each component of a curriculum to help
to explain choices.
 Context
 Learning objectives
 Conceptual framework
 Professional and educational
 Goal statement
 Key processes
Course content
Instructional design
Assessment approaches
STEP 1: Explaining the context
The OTA/PTA educational program at Smith College offers a curriculum that not only helps
fulfill the mission of the Department, Faculty and College, but is designed to attract excellent
students and, in partnership with the occupational therapy, physical therapy and health
professional communities, to support them to achieve their career aspirations.
The OTA/PTA program, offering a diploma designation, benefits from and is influenced by the
environment in which it is located. This includes:
A College in which participation and involvement teaching excellence is expected and
An Administration that sets high standards for admission, curriculum, and graduation;
A range of health professional programs that collectively commit to improving health care
for the province through innovation and accountability;
A Canadian OTA/PTA context recognized for its practice process, evidence-based
competencies and client-centred guidelines.
Step 2: Describing the conceptual
framework components and purpose
The curriculum is based on a conceptual framework that advances
the mission of the OTA/PTA program and consists of a goal
statement, learning objectives, professional and educational
philosophy, and four key processes (learning, practice, movement,
and participation in occupation). In turn, the conceptual framework
guides decisions about pre-requisites, course content, instructional
methods, and assessment of student learning.
(2) Smith
College’s OTA/PTA Educational Conceptual Framework
consists of a definition, a philosophy and values statement, a
description of they key learning theories that provide the
foundation to the curriculum, and examples of how this framework
guides the curriculum as a whole, as well as decision making
regarding prerequisites, course content, instructional methods, and the
evaluation /assessment of student learning.
STEP 3: Practice
Occupational Therapy Practice
 Occupational therapy is a client-centred profession that contributes to
individual and population health.
 Occupational therapists domain of concern is the interaction among person,
environment, and occupation.
 Meaning is idiosyncratic and multidimensional. Occupational therapists
support performance, participation, and engagement in occupations
chosen by clients as necessary and meaningful to their life roles, transitions,
and circumstances.
 Occupational therapy theory and practice is based on a holistic perspective
of mind, body, and spirit that recognizes the unique needs of individuals
and communities
 Occupational therapy theory and practice must be based on, developed and
verified through research.
STEP 3: Learning
Occupational Therapy Learning
 Learning environments that cultivate open communication, personal
growth, critical thinking, advocacy, and respect and tolerance for others
are essential to prepare occupational therapists for practice.
 Acknowledging that everyone’s a learner and everyone’s a teacher supports
the habits of life-long learning essential to meet the challenges of the health
care system and a changing society. These habits include scientific inquiry,
creativity, problem-solving, adaptability, and curiosity.
 Our intellectual and social lives are enriched by value-centred learning. We
therefore encourage debate, respect difference, and embrace discovery,
foster intercultural understanding, and promote interdisciplinary collaboration.
 Diverse, experiential approaches to higher learning and professional
education, appropriately supported by technology, support learner preferences
and maximize resources to achieve learning goals.
 Teaching is a scholarly practice involving reflection, research, and
 Values: In order to deliver a curriculum of the highest
quality, we believe in:
 Learning that is lifelong, interactive and transformative
 Excellence in teaching and learning
 High standards for professionalism
 Goal(s): Our primary goal is/goals are:
 To engage and transform students in learning
 To educate competent, practice-ready OTA/PTA
Step 4: Educational theories and
 Transformative learning theory (Mezirow)
 Social constructivism (Merriam and Caffarella)
 Critical pedagogy (Shor)
 Theory of experiential learning (Kolb)
 Cognitive neuroscience theory (Mergel)
 Bloom’s taxonomy of learning (Bloom)
Step 5: Practice theories and models
 Movement Continuum (Cott et al)
 International Classification of Function (ICF) (WHO)
 Occupational Performance Model (Law et al)
Step 5: Application of theory and
 An educator using social constructivism in the classroom or the
practice setting will:
 Recognize prior learning and experiences
 Require students to consider the social determinants of health
 Specific examples of social constructivism in our curriculum
 Case-based discussions facilitating self-understanding
 Fieldwork experiences where learning is constructed within
specific contexts
 Assessments derived from social constructivism:
 Use group assignments designed to share creative-problemsolving
 Prompt students to identify assumptions
Step 6: draw your framework
 Pull up google images and type in “conceptual
frameworks” – see how people conceptualize in
figures, diagrams, drawings and text.
 Try to draw a rough model to build on.
Reference: UBC
Occupational Therapy
Step 7: Pull the framework together
using text and conceptual graphics
 Outline:
 Context for your conceptual framework
 Elements of your conceptual framework:
 Philosophy
 Values
 Educational theories and applied model
 Practice theories and applied model
 Assessment theories and applied model
 Graphic representation
 How you use your conceptual model to inform your
curriculum/educational program
Conceptual frameworks:
 Answer the why and how questions related to your
 Organize the curriculum into elements that can be
explained, justified and tested
 Guide curriculum decisions and renewal for both
classroom and practice contexts
 Evolve as curricula change based on internal and
external forces
Thank you to…
My Occupational Therapy colleagues
 The University of British Columbia
 The University of Toronto
 The University of Manitoba
Thank you….

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