Nora Carlson

Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Andrea Young


Title: Senior Portfolios: A guide to Help Students Plan for the Transition to Adulthood Nora Carlson, OTDS, Dr. Andrea Young, OTD, OTR/L, Faculty Advisor, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of North Dakota School of Medicine Health Sciences, 501 North Columbia Rd, Grand Forks, ND 58202

Purpose: The purpose of the project was to assist at-risk students attending an alternative learning center (ALC) with secondary transition planning into adulthood to promote a successful first year out of high school. Planning is essential to ensure a smooth transition (Mankey, 2011). This project also aimed to showcase occupational therapy’s role in transition services, and how occupational therapy transition services can be used at an ALC with setting level one students.

Methodology: A needs assessment was conducted where pertinent literature was reviewed surrounding transitions, occupational therapy, and at-risk youth. Meetings and conversations with faculty and administration also occurred to help establish the need. It was discovered that many students have difficulty thinking about the prolonged future which impedes their ability to make a plan and carry out steps to achieve their goal the first year after they graduate. To help with this transition it is essential that students start thinking about their first year of adulthood prior to graduation.

Results: To address this barrier, a guide was developed in the form of a senior portfolio. The senior portfolio has two versions one worth .25 credit and one worth .125 credit. This product was created to help students figure out their occupational interests, assist with independent living skills, and help students develop an understanding and plan the steps necessary to reach their goal. The senior portfolio and handbook were created with guidance from the Person- Environment-Occupation model (Law et al., 1996).

Conclusion: Although it is clear that this population would benefit from transition services, ALC students do not receive this service since they are in a level one setting. Through research and personal knowledge of the occupational therapy profession, it is evident that occupational therapists have the knowledge and skills to assist these students with transition planning. The Senior Portfolios: A guide to Help Students Plan for the Transition to Adulthood was created to get seniors thinking about the future and help plan for their first year after graduation to ensure a smooth transition from high school to adulthood.