The Five Threads

The five threads of our curricular design.


Engagement in meaningful occupations is fundamental for interacting with the world around us and is essential for health and well-being. The overarching goal of occupational therapy is to enable participation and engagement in occupations, and occupations are used as both a means and an end to accomplish that goal. Occupation is at the core of our curriculum and is woven throughout all courses at every level of study. While it is presented as separate from the other threads, it underpins all the others.

Student Learning Outcome

As a graduate of our program, you will be able to articulate the value of occupation as integral to the health and well-being of individuals, groups, and populations.

Human and Environmental Systems

Interactions among these systems—individuals, occupations, and environments—are central to occupational performance. The relationship between humans and their environments is interdependent, ongoing, and reciprocal wherein human occupations influence the health of the environment, and the environment influences human health and wellbeing. These systems must be fully understood and appreciated by occupational therapists in order to fully and responsibly meet the needs of society. The systems nature of humans and environments makes it essential that diversity is respected in all aspects of occupational therapy practice. This thread includes the study of the human body, social and natural sciences, diversity, and clinical conditions.

This thread also includes coursework and experiences related to local and global issues influencing health and healthcare, exploring contexts and environments relevant to clients, occupational justice, and sustainability.

Student Learning Outcome

As a graduate of our program, you will be able to demonstrate understanding of the interaction between and complexity of diverse human and environmental systems in order to guide the occupational therapy process with persons, groups, and populations.

Theory-based Practice

Occupational therapists work in partnership with persons, groups, and populations to enhance occupational performance and engagement. Relevant theories, models, frames of reference, and other guidelines must be critically examined, selected and applied to guide the occupational therapy process. This process includes professional reasoning for evaluation, intervention, and outcomes occurring in a multitude of contexts and within varied service delivery models. The professional reasoning needed to problem solve and reflect on one’s practice while planning and delivering high quality, occupation based, and client-centered care is integral to the practice of occupational therapy.

This thread includes coursework and experiences related to professional reasoning using theories/models/ frames of reference from occupational therapy and relevant disciplines. It also includes the occupational therapy process as applied to persons, groups, and populations and within varied service delivery models.

Student Learning Outcome

Prior to graduation from program, you will participate and engage in meaningful classroom, campus, community, and professional activities in order to develop skills, behaviors, and attitudes needed for practice.


Evidence of the effectiveness of occupational therapy can be gathered from many sources, including disseminated research, examination of one's clinical practice, and consideration of the preferences, beliefs, and values of the client. Integration of all forms of evidence allows for professional reasoning and selection of theory-based evaluation and intervention methods to facilitate ethical, occupation based practice. Engagement in the creation of evidence facilitates a deeper understanding of the products that research creates.

This thread includes coursework and experiences related to the evaluation, creation and use of evidence to support practice. It also includes broader concepts of scholarship and the value of evidence within the profession.

Student Learning Outcome

As a graduate of our program, you will be able to use theory to guide and implement the occupational therapy process.

Participation and Engagement

Because we recognize and value the power of doing, opportunities for our students to engage in experiential learning activities in diverse contexts are provided and encouraged. Active participation on campus and in the community fosters development of interpersonal skills and professional behaviors needed for practice. Community engagement assists in building an appreciation for societal issues influencing practice and the capacity for advocacy and leadership.

This thread supports the inclusion of occupation-based and experiential activities, hands-on clinic opportunities, fieldwork, and service learning experiences in the curriculum.

Student Learning Outcome

As a graduate of our program you will learn to evaluate, use, and create evidence to support occupation based knowledge and practice. 


OT Department Office
321 Smiddy Hall
Ithaca College • 953 Danby Road • Ithaca, NY 14850