Evaluating the Professional Transformation from a Doctoral Capstone Experience



doctoral capstone, transformative learning, SoTL, occupational therapy


Transformational learning is a familiar framework that is used to guide student learning and development, but is not frequently studied in allied health education programs. A scholarly capstone is a common academic requirement among various allied health doctoral-level programs and is traditionally defined as an immersive experiential learning experience, along with a scholarly project via mentorship. Due to the inherent nature of the capstone process, the student is required to engage in self-reflection, self-examination, and exhibit self-directedness. Faculty in allied health programs can benefit from using transformative learning as a theoretical framework for designing and evaluating these experiential learning endeavours.

The purpose of this qualitative study was to measure the personal and professional transformation of occupational therapy students following a doctoral capstone experience (DCE), a required 14-week experience in entry-level occupational therapy doctorate programs. Data was collected via pre and post-DCE interviews and journal entries which mirrored Mezirow’s stages of transformational learning.  

This study provides insight to faculty regarding the importance of self-reflection to impact personal and professional growth in allied health doctoral students.

Author Biographies

Amy Mattila, Duquesne University

Assistant Professor

Department of Occupational Therapy

Duquesne University

Pittsburgh, PA

Elizabeth D. DeIuliis, Duquesne University

Clinical Associate Professor

Director of Clinical & Community Education

Academic Fieldwork Coordinator

Department of Occupational Therapy

Duquesne University

Pittsburgh, PA

Ann B. Cook, Duquesne University

Clinical Assistant Professor, Capstone Coordinator

Department of Occupational Therapy

Duquesne University

Pittsburgh, PA


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