Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2010


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Education Leaders (IDPEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

James Henderson

Committee Member

Pamela Reynolds

Committee Member

Laurel Willingham-McLain


community university, occupational therapy, partnerships, service learning


Community partner voices are important to understand because they provide the contexts in which occupational therapy students meet course objectives by applying clinical reasoning theory and developing clinical reasoning skills in a natural context (Witchger-Hansen et al., 2007; Provident, et al., 2011). To sustain these community-university partnerships, faculty must understand how community partners are experiencing these partnerships. This understanding provides the faculty with insight on how to adjust, revise or enhance the partnership process that supports the service-learning pedagogy to sustain this community work of meeting community-identified needs while providing students with an opportunity to apply theory and develop clinical reasoning and professional development skills. The purpose of this three year study was to listen to the voices of community partners who participated in community-university partnerships that support service-learning for occupational therapy students enrolled in a two semester course on clinical reasoning. Specifically, the objectives of this study were to a) understand how community partners experienced community-university partnerships that support service-learning within the department of occupational therapy, and b) understand how community partners' experiences changed over time. Results of the study revealed that community partners experienced the partnership itself through the faculty and the outcomes of the partnership, the service-learning project, through the occupational therapy students. Key findings included issues of effective communication and time when experiencing the partnership itself through the faculty member. When experiencing the service learning projects, community partners discussed developing meaningful relationships, spending time, and communicating effectively. Community partners were satisfied with the partnerships when the service learning projects met client or staff needs. Community partners were disappointed with the partnership when the service learning projects did not meet client or staff needs.