RHSC 503
Reasoning and Decision Making

Course Description
Guided by relevant conceptual frameworks, strategies such as critical reflection, narratives, and the assessment of the literature and other evidence are examined to enhance reasoning, decision-making and reflective practice.

Intended Learners
This course is designed for occupational therapists, physical therapists or practitioners in other health disciplines who want to acquire further knowledge and skills in reasoning and decision-making for their everyday work. Rehabilitation practitioners are expected to be able to explain and justify their work with clients/patients in a way that is understandable to others. Despite experience in clinical reasoning and high levels of skill in problem-solving, practitioners often find it a challenge to explain how they know something, or why they have chosen a particular approach. By examining literature, assorted media, and their own practice critically, learners will have an opportunity to make implicit knowledge explicit. In doing so, they will enhance their reasoning and decision-making, develop skills for reflective practice, and deepen their understanding of and ability to substantiate their practice.

Course Objectives
Upon completion of this course, learners will be able to:

  • Critically review literature on the reasoning and decision-making in rehabilitation;
  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using conceptual frameworks to guide reasoning and decision-making;
  • Summarize existing evidence related to a specific problem and make a decision based upon it;
  • Apply at least four reasoning/decision-making strategies to client examples and/or scenarios;
  • Analyze possible solutions to complex rehabilitation problems with their peers and moderate discussions about them that lead to identification of key issues and, where possible, their resolution;
  • Justify practice decisions; and
  • Use a personal inventory of strategies to enhance reflective practice.

Course Overview
Course content includes approaches, ideas and strategies that will assist learners in expanding their knowledge about how professionals think and reflect in practice, and enhance their reasoning, decision-making and skill in justifying what they do. Some of questions explored in the course include:

  • What theories and conceptual frameworks are used in rehabilitation and how do they influence the way practitioners think and make decisions?
  • What do practitioners believe and value about their disciplines and about people with disabilities, and how does this shape the way they approach their clients?
  • What strategies can practitioners use to address decision-making barriers so that their decision-making process and client/patient outcomes are enhanced?
  • What are the similarities and differences between how novice and expert practitioners make decisions? What implications can this have for practice?
  • What can practitioners do in the workplace to promote an atmosphere that encourages reasoning and reflection?

Assignments
Two course assignments enable learners to increase their awareness of how they make decisions in specific practice situations, evaluate practice decisions, and test strategies and approaches that facilitate the reflection needed to enhance reasoning and decision-making in practice. The assignments provide an opportunity for learners to reflect on their assumptions and values and develop insightful questions about their reasoning processes.

Course Readings
The course readings consist of the textbook below as well as journal articles and resources which are available through the course website once the course opens. The textbook can only be purchased through an online distributor such as Amazon. Please visit the Current Learners Page for further information.

Required Textbook
Higgs, J., Jones, M., Loftus, S., & Christiansen, N. (Eds.). (2008). Clinical reasoning in the health professions (3rd ed.). Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.