News and notes for the Summer 2016 edition of OT Matters

OT student doing research with child


Main Office

Occupational Therapy
School of Education
2120 Medical Sciences Center
1300 University Avenue
MadisonWI  53706-1691

Tel: 608/262-2936
Fax: 608/262-1639

or by contact form
News and Notes

UW–Madison’s OT Program ranked among best in nation

U.S. News logoUW–Madison’s Occupational Therapy program is rated among the very best in the country according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual graduate school rankings released in March 2016.

The UW–Madison program is ranked 14th, as voted on by program directors and faculty in health disciplines. Among Big Ten Conference peers, only Ohio State (No. 12) ranked higher.

For the third consecutive year, UW–Madison’s School of Education is rated No. 1 among public institutions, and No. 4 overall, according to U.S. News’ “2017 Best Education Schools” index. UW–Madison’s Occupational Therapy program is housed within the School of Education’s Department of Kinesiology.

Farrar-Edwards receives Vilas award

Extraordinary members of the UW–Madison faculty were honored this past spring with awards supported by the estate of professor, Senator and Regent William F. Vilas (1840–1908).

Dorothy Farrar EdwardsAnd among those receiving recognition include Dorothy Farrar-Edwards, a professor of occupational therapy with the Department of Kinesiology. Farrar-Edwards was named a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, which identifies distinguished scholarship as well as standout efforts in teaching and service. This professorship provides flexible funding over five years that Farrar-Edwards will use to bolster her research on health disparities and equity, especially as this relates to the impact of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease in underrepresented groups.

“The Vilas award was a terrific honor and a validation from my peers of the work I’ve been doing,” she says. Meanwhile, Farrar-Edwards’ term as chair of the Department of Kinesiology comes to a close at the end of the 2015–16 academic year. She served in that role for back-to-back three-year terms. Farrar-Edwards this spring also wrapped up a three-year term on the University Committee, which is the executive committee of UW–Madison’s faculty senate. She also was a member of the UW System’s Tenure Task Force, which was appointed to recommend new Board of Regents policies regarding tenure.

“I loved being department chair and being so closely involved with faculty governance, but I’m also very excited to get more involved again in my research projects,” she says.

OT Program's Bebeau helping vision
future Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education

Debbie Bebeau, a clinical assistant professor and academic fieldwork coordinator with the Occupational Therapy Program, is playing a key role in planning for a future Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education (CIPE) at UW–Madison.

Debbie BebeauThe idea behind CIPE is to better help health-related programs across campus develop synergistic and interprofessional activities to enhance education and meet accreditation standards. The center would also serve as a hub that fosters collaborative partnerships, shares best practices, and prepares students from a range of fields to care for their patients in effective, team-based settings.

Along these lines, Bebeau each spring and fall helps students from the OT Program work with their counterparts in the School of Nursing to conduct healthcare simulations across a variety of settings.

The idea is to help the students better understand and appreciate the interprofessional dynamics within and between OT and nursing.

“It’s a valuable experience in that it lets students hear perspectives and reflect on experiences they may not typically have when working with students from their own cohort,” says Bebeau. “This allows students to get practice working with an interdisciplinary team and to think about health care in a more comprehensive way.”

As a member of the executive committee of this future center, Bebeau and colleagues from health professions across UW–Madison spent parts of the 2014–15 academic year conducting a campus-wide inventory of interprofessional education (IPE) course offerings and activities to help inform future program development and provide data for accreditation processes.

In addition to the Occupational Therapy Program, campus units taking the lead on making this center a reality include the: School of Pharmacy; School of Medicine and Public Health; School of Veterinary Medication; and School of Nursing.

Larson helps secure funding for ‘Active Classroom Engagement’

Elizabeth Larson played a leading role in landing a grant for Madison’s Elvehjem Elementary School titled, “Active Classroom Engagement (ACE).” This project — which is being supported by a $25,000 grant from the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools — is designed to create movement-permissive classrooms to accommodate students’ natural need to be more active.

Elizabeth LarsonThis initiative, which will begin in the 2016–17 school year, will include six third- through sixth-grade classroom teacher volunteers who will be instructing about 120 students. The project leads at Elvehjem Elementary School are third grade teacher Dan Heinemann and Principal Sarah Larson.

Students will be provided individually fitted standing desks, with stools and anti-fatigue mats. They will also participate in daily three- to five-minute, teacher-led movement breaks. Research suggests that movement-permissive classrooms have positive effects on students’ engagement and on-task behaviors. Data will be collected at baseline, mid-year and end of year to assess the impact of the ACE project.

Elizabeth Larson is an award-winning associate professor of occupational therapy at UW–Madison.

She also is involved in an exciting project that’s designed to aid caregivers. Research indicates that caregivers of autistic children, who often face a lack of support and a range of daily obstacles, are the most stressed among those who care for kids with disabilities.

In an effort to help these caregivers improve their wellbeing, Larson and her research teams have developed a program, “5Minutes4Myself (5M4M),” that includes interactive coaching and a smartphone-based app that provides mindfulness podcasts, goal tracking and other habit-building features. Larson worked closely with caregiving parents and with Branch2, a Madison-based caregiving parents and with Branch2, a Madison-based startup, to design the app to fit the lifestyles of those engaged in time-intense caregiving. For more information, contact Larson via email at

Choi, Gunn earn Ph.D. in occupational science

Two students recently completed their doctoral work in occupational science at UW–Madison under the mentorship of Occupational Therapy faculty members.

Yeojin Choi, mentored by Associate Professor Elizabeth Larson, successfully defended her dissertation titled, “Perceived Lifestyle Balance in College Students.”

Professor Dorothy Farrar-Edwards mentored Wade Gunn in his study, “African American Perceptions of Memory Loss: Investigating Social Cognitive Barriers and Facilitators to Early Detection of Mild Cognitive Impairment using a Mixed Methods Approach.”

Sept. 14-15, 2018

UW–Madison’s Occupational Therapy Program will be celebrating its 75th year in 2018. Plan to come back for the special events we have planned for Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14 and 15.

Save the DateYour help can make this celebration event better:

• Share photos and stories of your time at UW–Madison for a memory book/slideshow. Email pictures to:

• Volunteer on one of the planning committees. We would like alumni still in Wisconsin and those farther away to ensure the event is meaningful for all. If you can help, email:

• Spread the word about the event via your social media accounts.

We look forward to celebrating this milestone with as many Badgers as possible! Please contact your classmates and join and like us on Facebook to spread the word among the OT Badger nation.

Watch your mailbox or visit for more details as they become available.
© 2017 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System • Please contact the School of Education External Relations Office with questions, issues or comments about this site.