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Occupational Therapy Assistant Program

Academic Retention Policy

Students in the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at the Pennsylvania State University must earn not less than a grade of C in BIO 129, 141, 142; OT 100, 101, 103, 105, 107, 202, 204, and 206, and maintain a minimum grade point of 2.0 to be eligible to engage in Level II Fieldwork. As outlined in the course syllabi and the Associate Degree Programs Bulletin, students must earn passing grades in prerequisite occupational therapy courses to enroll in subsequent occupational therapy courses.  Grading scales are outlined in the course syllabus for each of the didactic courses. 

It is expected that students enrolled in the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program will take the OT didactic courses offered in each semester, concurrently and in the prescribed sequence. The occupational therapy curriculum is designed so that knowledge and skills from courses in one semester serve as foundations for course work in subsequent semesters.  Level II fieldwork is completed after the OT didactic courses and all general education requirements are successfully completed.  Those students who choose to extend the didactic course work over a longer period of time usually take general education courses or requirements for the major other than OT designated courses prior to enrolling in the OT courses or during summer sessions. Occasionally students may complete the OT didactic course work prior to satisfying all the other requirements for the major and general education courses.

For extenuating circumstances, it may be necessary for a student to request a leave of absence or extend the program over a longer period of time.  The Pennsylvania State University Associate Degree Bulletin outlines policies and procedures for Leave of Absence, Course Withdrawal, Re-enrollment and Reinstatement that impact on all Pennsylvania State University students.  The Occupational Therapy Assistant Program places additional expectations on students enrolled in its course of studies.  It is expected that a student who, because of academic difficulties or extenuating circumstances, is not able to complete the OT designated courses within the programmed sequential semesters, will complete the prerequisite OT designated course work no more than one academic year prior to enrolling in the subsequent OT designated courses.  If the time lapse between stopping and restarting the occupational therapy didactic course sequence exceeds one year, the student is responsible for demonstrating current competency in previously completed courses, even though he or she had earned passing grades for those courses, before enrolling in those courses which need to be completed.  The Campus Coordinator and/or the faculty members responsible for the occupational therapy courses in which the student wishes to enroll will determine current competency. 

Demonstration of current competency may include:

auditing of previous courses, formal retesting of knowledge and skills, projects, etc. If a student earns a grade below a C in an occupational therapy didactic course, he or she may be eligible to retake the course one more time, if it is mutually determined by the student and the faculty member responsible for the course that retaking the course is a viable option and that the failing grade was not the result of a violation of the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics or Pennsylvania State University Policy and Rules.  A second failure for the same course or failure in two or more occupational therapy courses will result in termination from the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program.

Refer to the Level II Fieldwork Policy section of The Occupational Therapy Fieldwork Manual regarding policies and procedures for successful completion, termination, and failure of Level I and Level II Fieldwork.   

Refer to the Policy for Drops or Disenrollment from the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program.

Policy for Drops or Disenrollment from the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Reference Senate Policies 54-56.1 and 54-56.2

The faculty of the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program will review and evaluate the performance of the undergraduate degree candidate to determine if the performance of a degree candidate is considered to be below established standards and the candidate is not adapted to the work of the college.  This is in compliance with Senate Policy 54-56.1 and Senate Policy 54-56.2.

The following criteria will be applied in the review and evaluation process:  adherence to the American Occupational Therapy Associate Code of Ethics, the Occupational Therapy Practice Act of the state of Pennsylvania, the American Occupational Therapy Association Standards of Practice, and the Fieldwork Manual of the Pennsylvania State University; and adherence to the Pennsylvania State University Policies and Rules for Students.  Students found guilty of an infraction of academic integrity that also violates the AOTA Code of Ethics may be ineligible for completion of the program and may be ineligible to sit for the certification exam required for practice as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant.  Students convicted of a felony will not be eligible to sit for the certification exam required for practice as a COTA. Students not adapted to the work of the college as determined by the above criteria will be provided written notice during the semester in which their work is so judged.  A copy of the letter will be retained in the OTA program office and one will be forwarded to the Office of the Dean of the University College or to the dean of the Penn State Berks Campus for those students attending the Penn State Berks Campus.  The student will have one semester following the receipt of the written notice to remediate the circumstances which caused the deficit.  A written plan of remediation will be developed.  The student and the OTA program coordinator will retain copies of the remediation plan.  If the plan is successful, the student may continue in the program.  If the student does not successfully complete the remediation plan, their name will be forwarded to the appropriate dean of their college for removal from degree candidacy in the OTA major as per Senate Policy 54-56.1.  Counseling as to other degree options will be provided by the University.


Procedure: Failure to Meet Academic Retention Standards

To require a student to disenroll from a college or major under Senate Policy 54-56.1, a college dean shall provide in writing a notice to the student that such action is pending, to be executed effective at the beginning of the next semester. The Division of Undergraduate Studies will be informed when such notice is given. The student should be strongly encouraged to consult with his or her adviser and with the Division of Undergraduate Studies regarding possible transfer to the Division or to another major.

The student may process a Change of Major form to accomplish a transfer of enrollment to another academic program or to the Division of Undergraduate Studies, subject to the provisions of Senate Policy 37-30.

Effective at the beginning of the next semester after appropriate notice to the student (under Policy 54-56.1), the college dean may place an academic administrative hold on the registration of the student in the college. The hold will prevent the student from registering as a degree candidate in the college during that semester or after. The hold to register as a degree candidate would be removed if the student has successfully processed a Change of Major form. The hold would not prevent the student from enrolling during that semester as a non-degree student. After one semester of no enrollment as a degree candidate under the administrative hold, the student's status would change to that of withdrawn from degree candidacy. If later the student wished to be readmitted to degree candidacy under Senate Policy 58-00, the student would not be readmitted to the college from which he or she had been disenrolled under Policy 54-56.1 without certification by the college dean that the student has satisfied all admission and entrance to major requirements. (Ref: Senate Policy 54-56.1)

Students Not Adapted to Work in the College

The faculty of a college through its advising system should periodically review and evaluate the performance of the undergraduate degree candidates. If the performance of a degree candidate is considered to be below standards and the candidate is not adapted to the work of the college, the candidate will be counseled and informed by letter of any deficiencies. The candidate will be given at least one semester after receipt of the letter to remove deficiencies or show that he or she has adapted to the work of the college. If, after one or more semesters the student's performance has not improved, the college dean may recommend to the President that the student be dropped as a degree candidate. The recommendation to the President is forwarded to the Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education. The recommendation should include a transcript, copies of any letters sent to the student, and a summary of counseling sessions. In order to control registration, billing, etc., drops by colleges are expected to occur only at the end of a semester in accordance with an announced deadline. The deadline is normally 24 hours after the final examination period ends. (Ref: Senate Policy 54-56.2)

Approved: ACUI (9-13-79)

Revised: ACUI (5-19-83)

Revised: ACUE (9-26-96)

The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. Please consult a Penn State academic adviser for more detailed information. Penn State is an affirmative action, equal opportunity university.