The Purpose of undergraduate rehabilitation education: Implications for Curriculum Development
Type of DegreeDissertation
DepartmentRehabilitation and Special Education
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The goal of this study was to determine the commonalities and differences of registered and non-registered undergraduate rehabilitation education programs existent in the United States and to identify curriculum commonalities and differences among baccalaureate rehabilitation and disability studies programs, and to identify the driving purpose of baccalaureate rehabilitation and disability studies programs education within the United States. Fourteen of the sixteen programs (87.5%) responded were on the registry of The Council on Undergraduate Rehabilitation Education (CORE). These programs responded to a questionnaire that investigated the demographics of, the curriculum structure, and driving purpose of undergraduate rehabilitation education. The major finding of the survey questionnaire revealed that a broad-based educational experience (Systems Change or Allied Health Professions Models) accomplishes (a) an infusion of disability culture into the broader aspects of rehabilitation related occupations and society, and (b) students who experience these models have a greater diversity of career path options to pursue, rather than a more narrow interpretation of rehabilitation—that is, a curriculum focused only on vocational rehabilitation. Based on the findings, the following recommendations are presented for review and consideration: (a) The adoption of a Systems Change, Leadership, and Advocacy Model or an Allied Health Occupations Model or a blend of both. This type of model change meets the needs and direction, while having the capability to modify and introduce the notion of a disability friendly culture within American society, and (b) Full-time dedicated faculty positions should form the basic infrastructure of all baccalaureate rehabilitation education programs, while being supplemented with adjunct and specialized faculty to add additional layers of specialty expertise. Consistency in faculty resources creates a better opportunity for the development of a core curriculum as well as a sense of identity among undergraduate rehabilitation education programs.