General information about fieldwork

The fieldwork component of the Bachelor of Health Science (Occupational Therapy) includes on-campus experiences and a series of block placements. During the block placements, the supervisor or fieldwork educator uses suitable practice situations to facilitate student learning at the appropriate level.

Over the course of the three-year degree, students must complete:

  • Three graded fieldwork placements (Practicum 1, Practicum 2 and Practicum 3) under the supervision of registered occupational therapists.
  • The Longitudinal Fieldwork Experience (LFE) in Year 2. This isn't a graded assessment and group supervision is provided by AUT staff.

Fieldwork education reinforces and extends the theoretical knowledge and skills developed in the classroom.

The World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) recommends minimum standards for occupational therapy education. Students must complete 1000 fieldwork hours to meet the requirements of the degree.

Fieldwork information and objectives

Processes related to fieldwork for occupational therapy students

  • Fieldwork educators are not required to make the decision regarding the student’s passing or failing the placement. You are instead asked to provide your assessment of, and feedback on, the student’s performance of each of the criteria under all the competencies.
  • Students are assessed against all competencies. Criteria have been selected that are most relevant to the stage of education and the content of the papers leading up to the placement.
  • Students are expected to provide examples of their achievement / written evidence for each of the criteria, both for the midway and final assessment. There is no midway assessment for the Practicum 1. The midway assessment will only take place for Practicum 2 and 3.
  • Feedback from clients and other team members on the student’s performance is legitimate and may be useful.

Midway assessment

  • At the required midway assessment (around the middle of the placement) both student and fieldwork educator’s complete the assessment prior to the assessment meeting by ticking the boxes that indicate the student’s performance.
    • Additionally fieldwork educators are expected to add midway written comments, including specific feedback on how the student can improve their performance for each competency (e.g. in order to reach the expected level of performance by the final assessment).
    • Students are expected to write a reflection on their experience / performance of each of the competencies.
      • In the midway assessment column there are no shaded boxes indicating expected level of performance, as this is a formative assessment opportunity.
      • There is NO midway assessment for Year one placement.

Final assessment

  • The final assessment should take place during the final few days of each placement. Both student and fieldwork educator complete the assessment prior to the assessment meeting by ticking the boxes that indicate the student’s performance. At this time the student’s performance is expected to be at the level indicated by the shaded box.
    • Fieldwork educators prepare final written comments in the boxes provided at the end of the assessment booklet before the assessment meeting.
    • Students are expected to complete the reflection on their performance and identify three objectives to guide their ongoing development before the assessment meeting.
    • It is expected that the completion of all the elements of the assessment document prior to both the midway and final assessments will facilitate a two-way process of discussion and reflection between the fieldwork educator and the student about the student’s performance and the final grading occurs as a result of this discussion. Allocate sufficient time to discuss the assessment with your student.

How to provide feedback

  • In your written comments, focus on feedback that confirms the student’s achievements and areas for development; your professional view on the student’s performance is vital in helping us decide the student’s final grade for this paper.
  • For the purpose of the moderation process that will occur once the assessments are returned to AUT, please ensure that feedback is clear:
    • Include some examples of performance that reflect the grades that have been given for the performance indicators
    • Is specifically related to the competency it addresses
  • If more than one fieldwork educator is involved in the supervision of a student, one fieldwork educator will be the designated primary fieldwork educator, who takes primary responsibility for the supervision process.
  • When two or more students are on placement together, it is expected that their assessments are completed individually.
  • The fieldwork assessment booklet should be returned electronically to the clinical experience administrator – on the date specified on the assessment booklet.
  1. Absence from clinical practice should be for health or close family bereavement reasons only.
  2. In the event of sickness students must phone their fieldwork educator at the time agreed during orientation. It is important that the student personally makes the phone call and does not ask other students, family or parents to give messages regarding sick leave; unless they are unable to, due to significant injury, illness or bereavement. It is important that the student speaks in person, and does not leave a voice message. This is to allow rescheduling of patients and planning for the student’s return.
  3. All absences will be recorded by the fieldwork educator on the time sheet at the back of the assessment booklet.
  4. An absence of three consecutive days requires a medical certificate as documentary evidence –and needs to be supplied to the fieldwork administrator. If the student needs to isolate due to COVID-19 then a medical certificate is not warranted. The student must follow the service protocols and Ministry of Health guidelines.
  5. Year 1: Two Week placement. Due to the short duration of the Year 1 placement, and in order to meet the learning outcomes, students are required to complete the stated placement hours. In the event of an absence, the AUT fieldwork liaison lecturer must be contacted as soon as possible by the student and/or the fieldwork educator, and the student will then be required to apply for an extension, and undertake another placement at an alternative time.
  6. For all other placements: If a student is absent for 3 or more days in total, the student and/or the fieldwork educator must contact the AUT fieldwork liaison lecturer as soon as possible. This is to ensure that an appropriate plan is implemented for completing the required hours and meeting the learning outcomes, according to the paper requirements, for example the student may be able to engage in remote learning where possible or they may need to apply for an extension to complete the course.
  7. Any medical/dental appointments must be scheduled so as not to interfere with the placement day or outside of normal working hours where possible. If this is totally unavoidable, students are required to discuss the problem with their supervisor IN ADVANCE of any appointment being made

At all times, client safety is paramount. Should a student repeatedly not respond to feedback and by doing so put a client at psychological or physical risk, there may be grounds for withdrawing the student from the placement.

Student and staff safety is also important. Should a student or staff member feel psychologically or physically unsafe during the placement, there may be grounds for ending the placement.

Withdrawal from a placement is an outcome of last resort. In order to minimise the likelihood of this occurring, all parties involved will be encouraged to engage in the problem-solving process supported by AUT.

If a student doesn't meet the expected level of competence

If it looks like a student will not be meeting the expected level of competence for any of the criteria please contact the your CCP Leader who will inform the practicum leader to discuss how the student can be supported and facilitated to reach the expected level by the end of the placement.

About AUT’s occupational therapy degree

Find out more about AUT’s Bachelor of Health Science (Occupational Therapy) and the courses students take in each year to get an idea what skills students have when they start their clinical placements.