Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Darci J. Harland


Occupational therapy students (OTSs) who misuse social media within academic and clinical learning environments may increase the instances of ethical health care violations and breaches of professional codes of conduct. The purpose of this quantitative, cross-sectional study was to assess the social media competency (SMC) scores of OTSs based on year of study, age, and gender. As a result, the research questions were developed to compare the SMC of OTSs based on year of study, age, and gender. The study was grounded by Bandura’s social learning theory and a rationale for allowing social media use in the curriculum. An archived convenience sample (N = 180) of SMC scores from four student cohorts who took a digital version of the SMC survey instrument during the 2021 academic year was used. A one-way between subjects ANOVA indicated significant results for the year of study on SMC at the p < .001 level in which the mean SMC score was significantly less than the remaining cohorts of study. Additionally, no significant differences were found for age (p > .07) and gender (p > 0.11) in the SMC of OTSs. OTSs’ SMC influences both the quality of services rendered as well as protection of the rights and privacy of consumers and their sensitive information. This study supports positive social change by potentially informing educators on the effect of their curricula towards OTSs’ SMC, which may further protect patient privacy and confidentiality against their misuse through social media.