Otago Polytechnic

Fieldwork Policies and Processes - Bachelor of Occupational Therapy - A handbook for Fieldwork Lecturers 

Narinder Verma
19 September 2018 

Verma, N. (2018). Fieldwork Policies and Processes - Bachelor of Occupational Therapy - A handbook for Fieldwork Lecturers. (Executive Summary of a thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements for the degree of Master of Professional Practice, Otago Polytechnic.)


Project Objective

The purpose of this project was to design and implement a resource manual for all the fieldwork lecturers (including myself) at the School of Occupational Therapy, Otago Polytechnic. Six key learning outcomes have been identified for this project:

  • Learning outcome 1. By the end of this project, I will have learnt how to outline  and  develop clear policies and procedures in relation to the fieldwork component of the  Bachelor of Occupational Therapy programme.
  • Learning outcome 2. By the end of this project, I will have learnt how to implement process design in a safe and ethical way.
  • Learning outcome 3. By the end of this project, I will have demonstrated the ability to evaluate, integrate, and apply appropriate information from various resources to create the justification of developing a resource for the Occupational Therapy Department.
  • Learning outcome 4. In terms of personal, professional and academic learning, I believe that I will be demonstrating that I am deepening my learning and applying the ideas from readings into my every day work. I learn by doing. This approach relates to the theory of education by Dewey according to Pegg (2017). His belief was that learning needed be both relevant, practical, and not just theoretical and passive.
  •  Learning outcome 5. Since commencing my fieldwork coordinator role, a lot of my learning has occurred within the work place. Increasingly, it is recognised that learning occurs in the work place, as an integral part of working. Work-based learning focuses on solving real- world problems. The time and effort invested in the learning are immediately rewarded through completing the task in hand and the usefulness of such learning, together with the short-term nature of the rewards, improves the motivation to learn.
  • Learning outcome 6. I believe that my confidence in my role will enhance, as I believe this project will allow me to develop more expertise in the role. In completing this project, I believe I fulfil the criteria of this role of the fieldwork coordinator of the Bachelor of Occupational Therapy programme.

Compiling the resource manual involved new policy development, and building new processes, so that staff on the fieldwork team are better informed about their roles, and have ready access to the information required to respond to queries that may arise, minimising ambiguity and enhancing consistency. To support my findings, I utilised relevant literature on teamwork and on process design.


This specific project provides an evaluation of the existing difficulties encountered within the fieldwork team that consists of five staff members working at the School  of Occupational Therapy, Otago Polytechnic. The project idea is founded in the creation of a resource manual, which incorporates a number of policies and procedures to assist with the complexities that arise within the fieldwork component of the programme. It is also important to note that there currently is no manual on fieldwork within the school. Current processes were poorly understood or misinterpreted and this caused confusion for both our learners and staff whilst engaged in their fieldwork placement. There is no clear indication of the roles and responsibilities of the fieldwork lecturer and this causes further confusion as the expectations are unclear.


Through autoethnographic research over a two-year period, I have gained insight into the numerous factors that indicate that a resource manual is what is required for the department. From my workplace reflections, insider research desktop analysis and literature review, it is clear that the role of fieldwork coordinators is complex.

My purpose is to develop clear policies and procedures in relation to the fieldwork component to the Bachelor of Occupational Therapy Programme. Through the design and implementation of a fieldwork manual staff will feel more empowered to fulfill the demands of this complex role.


  1. That the manual be implemented, but as a work in progress, so that lessons learned during implementation can be incorporated into future iterations.
  2. That with this manual as a baseline, a systematic needs analysis be designed and implemented to inform future iterations.
  3. That Otago Polytechnic fieldwork staff conduct a benchmarking exercise against other providers in New Zealand and internationally.
  4. That any future employee joining the School of Occupational Therapy have access to the manual in order to have some key information relating to fieldwork policies and processes readily available.
  5. That a date and time be scheduled in order to present the resource manual to staff on the fieldwork team and then to book a further date to review whether the manual has been beneficial for the fieldwork team.



This thesis is not publicly available. This executive summary is available under a Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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