Life Skills Training for Therapy Assistant Students: An Exploratory Sequential Mixed Methods Study
College students often struggle with basic life skills such as meal preparation and managing finances, which may lead to challenges with academic performance, stress management, practicum performance, and employability. Rehabilitation therapy assistant students face the same challenges as other college students that may impact performance when they are expected to work on life skills with clients. This research targets students in therapy assistant diploma programs to explore whether training in life skills can reduce the challenges these students face. This research study included three phases: identifying therapy assistant students’ life skill needs, developing an approach to address needs, and evaluating the approach. In Phase 1, therapy assistant students, graduates, instructors, and preceptors participated in interviews and focus groups about life skills needs of therapy assistant students. Data were analyzed using applied thematic analysis. Identified themes related to life skill categories, life skill challenges, student success, impact of students’ life skills on clinical encounters, and life skills training needs. Challenges identified for the students included skills such as time management, stress management, managing money, and cooking. Life skills training needs identified by participants included instrumental activities of daily living, non-technical skills (communication, professionalism, time management, problem-solving), and teaching skills. In Phase 2, life skills training modules were developed based on the needs identified in Phase 1. Behaviour change theories, principles of digital and online learning related to health behaviors, and adult education principles guided module development. Modules on performance management, money management, and manual skills were developed and prepared for online delivery. In Phase 3, modules were made available to 39 therapy assistant students at a college in Canada. Outcomes were measured using knowledge quizzes, the Occupational Self Assessment, and satisfaction surveys. Data were analyzed quantitatively (quizzes and assessments) and qualitatively (open comments on satisfaction surveys). Findings suggest that modules were received positively by participants and that their knowledge increased after completing the modules. No significant changes in students’ perceptions of their own occupational competence were detected. Further research is needed to explore the impact of life skills training on therapy assistant students’ self-efficacy and actual performance of important life skills.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/28920
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