Dr. Barbara Abbott, an occupational therapist who managed The Outreach Program (TOP) for the Kent, WA, school district, requested University of Puget Sound occupational therapy graduate students to research the following question: “What is the effectiveness of occupation-based interventions in comparison to traditional instruction for increasing self-determination in young adults with various disabilities?” A literature review was conducted using seven databases to find the available evidence regarding use of occupation-based curricula to impact self-determination of post-secondary adults with disabilities. Due to the emerging nature of the topic, limited evidence was found. However, the findings revealed that both occupation-based and direct instruction curricula increased self-determination in young adults with disabilities. It is recommended that occupational therapy practitioners consider implementing an occupation-based curriculum to increase self-determination skills when working with young adults with disabilities.

The evidence obtained from the literature review was translated into a webinar for viewing by OT practitioners and administrators in the Kent School District. The webinar content highlighted the aim, cost, and effectiveness of each self-determination program. The impact of this webinar was monitored through a survey which viewers were instructed to complete upon finishing the webinar. Future research should focus on direct comparison between occupation-based and direct instruction curricula that target self-determination to enhance evidence-informed practice for occupational therapy practitioners.

Publication Place

Tacoma, Washington


University of Puget Sound

Project Chairperson

Renee Watling, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Project Chairperson

Publication Date



Capstone Project





Degree Program

Occupational Therapy

Degree Level

Master of Science


Occupational Therapy


University of Puget Sound