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How to Complete a Scoping Review

This is a light-hearted lesson on how to create a scoping review.  It focuses on overarching elements of the process and relates to the experiences others may have as they encounter obstacles and frustrations along the way.

Click on the image to the left to watch the video.  To see a captioned version, click here.  No time or ability to watch the video? No problem.  There is an audio podcast version just below.

How to Complete a Scoping ReviewBebe Makena, OTD, OTR/L
00:00 / 06:46
Educational Philosophy

I am a proponent of cognitive apprenticeships.

Here is my Summary Statement:

Transformation of one’s worldview can occur through a variety of catalysts.  Promoting transformation through adult education can be a challenge as teachers are never certain what provocation will result in a shift in the student’s perspective.  The unique life experiences and cognitive development of each student will have an influence on this outcome.  Placing learners into real-world settings to complete cognitive apprenticeships can facilitate a multitude of opportunities for transformative learning to occur.  Cognitive apprenticeships can further aide in the maturation of individual cognition thereby enabling improved critical reflection skills, which is needed to support stages of transformation.  Adult occupational therapy students must not only be able to critically reflect on their own experiences and those of their clients, they must also apply these skills when considering appropriate intervention approaches for each person they assist.  Educational programs that rely on cognitive apprenticeships can support these students’ success by couching their learning directly into their practice settings and creating strong linkage between their setting experiences, formative assessments and summative assessments.

Reflection and Personal Philosophy of Teaching and Learning

            Merriam (2004) posits that higher level cognitive functioning is necessary for transformational learning to occur.  The author provides ample evidence that this awareness, in fact, was incorporated into Mezirow’s intent to consider transformational learning as a step towards cognitive maturation wherein one learns to think independently of ​groups or authoritative figures.  Merriam (2004) goes on to observe that at least half of adults have been found not to achieve Piaget’s fourth and final developmental stage.  This is the formal operations stage which is when the ability to reflect critically on views differing from one’s own occurs. This  is a skill that seems necessary to induce

transformational learning.  Further, of those who have not achieved this stage, it was suggested that many were still residing in the second developmental stage, the preoperational stage, normally considered as occurring between the ages of 2 to 7 years.  This information suggests that many adults are concrete and self-focused in their cognitive functioning, and struggle with abstract thought and empathetic consideration of others’ worldviews.  What is uncertain at this time, is if the participants studied for this information constituted a large and diverse population or if other developmental attributes, perhaps those akin to the concept of different ways of knowing, were considered.

            If the data presented by Merriam (2004) can be generalized to the majority of adult students, one is left wondering if the experience of adult educational programs can facilitate progression from the concrete operational stage to the formal operations stage.  King and Kitchener (1994) offer the seven-stage reflective judgement model as one potential method to promote reflective thinking through formal consideration of a moral dilemma.  Their approach is observed in the ideas promoted by Bowen and Watson (2017) and Svinicki and McKeachie (2014) when they suggest using challenging social topics or provocative statements to initiate an entry point into a learning experience followed by use of a meditative tool, such as writing, to facilitate self-reflection.  It is unknown how far an adult leaner will progress in their stages of reflective learning using this type of approach, however King and Kitchener (1994) demonstrated that it was rare to find adults operating within the last two stages which constitute the most independent stages of reasoning.  They did show that age and education were determinants in progression through their stages, which perhaps bodes well for transformational learning to occur in adult students.

My Adult Learning Experience

            It is with these thoughts in mind that I turn to my own experience as an adult student.  There were many elements throughout my education that reflected evidence of professors attempting to use teaching tools to create transformative learning experiences, including efforts to provide real-world exposure to settings where my knowledge would be used.  Despite this, I discovered consistently that I was often under prepared for the practical application of the knowledge I had learned. 

           The overall framework of every educational experience I have had has been traditional: semesters, individually themed classes, classroom settings the majority of the time, some classroom-based laboratory work, and real-world exposure experiences.  None have broken the mold of a long-standing college-level teaching and learning experience; each trying instead to find slots in traditional curriculum designs to insert interesting approaches.  I think this is where the change needs to occur in order to facilitate: 1.) transformational learning experiences that require critical reflection related to therapeutic care of others, 2.) a comprehensive understanding of basic treatment protocols and commonly understood practices, and 3.) a refined clinical understanding of when to use the common practices and when to diverge based on a critical assessment of a person’s concerns.


My Philosophy

          If Merriam’s (2004) report is correct, then teachers have a greater need to help adult students advance their developmental stage before they can expect the self-reflection of transformational learning or the highest-level independent consideration of topics outlined in the King and Kitchener (1994) reflective judgement model.  Starting adult students with education on tools and related applications is appropriate if half of them are cognitively better at considering concrete topics.  Immersing adult students into real-world settings where they learn to use these tools under a mentor who can model their use and coach their performance will expose them to situations that have the potential to make them critically reflect on the usefulness of the tool in varied situations.  As time and experiences progress, the mentor can layer-in new knowledge to refine the adult learner’s application of tools, as well as their ability to critically consider their appropriateness and alternative options.  Through this experience, the student improves their ability to share their rationale and builds the confidence to continue to perform the learned skills independently.  Marrying this experience with an overall final classroom project that requires the student to reflect on the experience and address specific learning criteria can meet the needs of the teaching program in promoting theories, knowledge, skills, and more.

​          The concept I am describing is cognitive apprenticeship (CA) which is the application component of situational cognition (SC).  SC posits that learning occurs in social contexts where people experience the authentic use of knowledge (Bates, et al., 2012; and Choi & Hannafin, 1995).  CA outlines six components that occur within SC: modeling, coaching, scaffolding, articulation, and reflection (Bates, et al., 2012; and Pimmer, et al., 2012).  Transformational learning occurs, potentially, with multiple experiences over the course of the apprenticeship.  The transformation itself, might be considered something that is scaffolded over the course of the apprenticeship as the student’s perspective broadens through the myriad of real-world experiences.

Personal Goals for Teaching Adult Students

          My approach to using CA would transform a program such that the classroom experience would be minimal and the real-world experiences would allow an ever-increasing application of skills.  The real-world experiences would last for the full semester, mentors would be assigned, and the real-world context would be used as the basis for a final comprehensive assignment encompassing evidence-based research of an identified concern, application of analytical skills, reflection on real experiences, and overall self-reflection of the students' key take-aways.


          While I am unaware of this design being used elsewhere, there is support for CA within the medical field to promote improved skills.  Pimmer, et al. (2012) found CA to be useful in transforming clinical approaches in medical care when interdisciplinary care teams came together to share knowledge and problem-solve patient-care concerns.  Further, Berryman (1991), Bates, et al. (2012), and Choi and Hannafin (1995) all indicate that standard classroom-based instruction does not transfer readily to real-world environments.  My goal for teaching adult students, then, is to facilitate real-world learning experiences much the same way I would work with an occupational therapy patient within their “natural setting” to ensure their ability to habituate their newly learned skill.



Bates, F. M., Dolce, J. N., & Waynor, W. R. (2012). The cognitive apprenticeship model: implications for its use in psychiatric rehabilitation provider training. Journal of Rehabilitation, 78(1), 5-10.

Bowen, J. A., & Watson, C. E. (2017). Teaching naked techniques: A practical guide to designing better classes. Jossey Bass.

Choi, J-I. & Hannafin, M. (1995). Situated cognition and learning environments: Roles, structures, and implications for design. ETR&D, 43(2), 53-69.

King, P.M. & Kitchener, K.S. (1994). Developing reflective judgment: Understanding and promoting intellectual growth and critical thinking in adolescents and adults. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Merriam, S. B. (2004). The role of cognitive development in Mezirow’s transformational learning theory. Adult Education Quarterly, 55, (1), 60-68.

Pimmer, C., Pachler, N., Nierle, J., & Genewein, U. (2012). Learning through inter- and intradisciplinary problem-solving: Using cognitive apprenticeship to analyse doctor-to-doctor consultation. Advances in Health Science Education, 17, 759-778.

Svinicki, M. C., & McKeachie, W. J. (2014). McKeachie’s teaching tips, 14th edition. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

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