Self-regulated learning in a field-based setting: Metacognitive and motivational strategies used by occupational therapy fieldwork students to develop clinical competence

Date of Completion

January 2005


Health Sciences, Education|Education, Adult and Continuing|Education, Higher




Occupational therapy students often complete their fieldwork education lacking competencies needed for practice. The length of fieldwork has remained constant over the years, while the nature of practice is more complex. This study identified self-regulated learning strategies that help occupational therapy fieldwork students develop clinical competence within the current fieldwork requirement. ^ Self-regulated learning has a positive impact on academic performance. A model of self-regulated fieldwork learning, based on research in academic settings, including contextually relevant metacognitive and motivational variables, provided the theoretical rationale for this study. Qualitative research methods were selected, since the nature of self-regulated learning in field-based settings had not been described in the literature. ^ Data were collected from 12 occupational therapy students engaged in fulltime fieldwork. Nine participants were identified as high performing students (above average or outstanding) and their data were used to describe effective self-regulated fieldwork learning. Two participants were identified as below average students and their data served as a cross comparison to better understand how themes describing self-regulated learning strategies of effective learners were qualified by varied conditions. ^ Four primary themes emerged from the data that described self-regulated fieldwork learning used to develop clinical competence. Effective occupational therapy fieldwork students. (1) used metacognitive control to create and expand their own mental models for clinical competence, (2) demonstrated self-determined motivation that supported the use of metacognitive strategies, (3) took active steps to develop and maintain a productive learning alliance with their supervisors, (4) examined the person-environment interface and were strategic in selecting self-regulated learning strategies. ^ Results of the study were consistent with theories of self-regulated learning based on research in academic settings, but the data suggested that fieldwork learners used additional strategies specific to the fieldwork setting. Effective fieldwork students used self-regulatory learning strategies designed to simultaneously promote learning while ensuring effective patient care. Elaborating on self-regulated learning strategies used in academic settings to better meet the demands of the clinical sites may facilitate students' transition from fieldwork learning to lifelong learning in the workplace. ^