Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

C. Casey Ozaki


Literacy is an essential component of education and impacts learning potential through life. Development of literacy begins in infancy, and children who experience delays in their development are also at high risk of having delayed literacy development. Multiple programs have been designed to help at-risk children meet their developmental milestones and require literacy development to be explicitly addressed. One such program is Part C of the IDEA, also known as Early Intervention (EI). Occupational therapists (OTs) are one profession that supports families under this program. Occupational therapy academic standards do not require literacy development as part of the curriculum, nor has OT's perception of their abilities to support literacy development been studied. Thus, the knowledge, confidence, and satisfaction with their training of OTs in this area are unknown.This descriptive quantitative study assessing OT’s perceived knowledge, confidence, and educational satisfaction regarding literacy development was guided by adult learning theory, specifically Tennent and Pogson’s (1995) structure and Dunst et al. (2009) guidelines for professional development. A survey developed by Blood et al. (2010) was revised, with permission, to study satisfaction with academics, knowledge, and confidence to address literacy development and associated skills of OTs working in EI. A total of 52 participants completed at least half of the survey and are included in the results. Multiple significant findings from this study have implications on academic (preservice) and professional development (post-service) training of OTs regarding literacy development. First, OTs reported being unsatisfied with academic and fieldwork training on literacy development and associated skills. Knowledge of skills in pre and emergent literacy phases was very good; however, OTs were unsure of their knowledge in early literacy. The most knowledge on literacy development was gained from informal, on-the-job training. And a significant correlation was found between the service delivery model and EI-specific training. Next, OTs were at least somewhat confident for literacy development and associated skills in all phases of literacy. They reported more confidence in skills than the overall concept of literacy development. Years of OT experience was the most significant relationship between demographic data and confidence with literacy development. Confidence can be predicted by knowledge (in emergent and early literacy phases) and by confidence in skills (preliteracy and emergent literacy phases), but not by satisfaction in academics. Identifying perceived knowledge, confidence, and satisfaction of learning of occupational therapists working in EI will allow academic programs and EI employers to adjust educational opportunities to help increase the connection between skills and the concept of literacy development. As all professionals working with young children become more acutely aware of how literacy development occurs, it will allow for more strategic focus on this essential skill when supporting young children and their families.