We are committed to providing our students with opportunities for scholarly activities and research. We develop your foundational skills in the classroom with courses such as statistics and research methods. You research and compose an exploratory research paper under the guidance of faculty. In the graduate year, you select either an individual thesis or a group research option to complete your degree. In the non-thesis option, you work together in a group research class to implement and present a faculty-designed research project. We encourage students either individually, or in collaboration with faculty, to pursue further research in topics of interest. It is common for these projects to be submitted for publication or presentation at state and national conferences. The Department does provide financial support for student travel to present research at conferences (funds are limited and subject to availability).
Faculty-Student Research: Re-imagining Recess
In partnership with local schools and the Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI), the Re-imagining Recess project brings loose parts play to recess time for elementary age children. Loose parts are items that can be moved, modified, and used for a variety of purposes. They can be natural or synthetic materials. Some examples of items provided included ropes, buckets, tires, large pieces of fabric, and recycled materials. The project also trains the adults supervising recess to reduce unnecessary restrictions on children's free play, and to facilitate active play.
Assistant Professor Dr. Kim Wilkinson, and a student research team, completed structured observations of the Re-imagining Recess project at a local Ithaca school. They noticed that incorporating loose parts into recess resulted in children increasing the variety of their play and their activity level. In particular, constructive play increased. Other research demonstrates that this is associated with improved understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills.
Faculty Research: Ergonomics and Environmental Design
Dr. Julie Dorsey, Associate Professor and an expert in ergonomics and environmental design, discusses how the process of assembling sustainable buildings can result in injuries for construction workers. Dr. Dorsey explains why occupational therapists are interested in this population and how "occupational therapy is all about the people."