Trend Analysis of Therapeutic Recreation Curricula: 1970–2013


  • Allison Wilder University of New Hampshire
  • Melissa Zahl Oklahoma State University
  • Janell Greenwood Brigham Young University-Idaho
  • Marcia J. Carter Western Illinois University
  • Norma J. Stumbo president of Education Associates, Normal, IL


therapeutic recreation, trend analysis, curriculum trends, micro-analysis, macro-analysis


Two long-term series of curriculum studies have examined the characteristics of therapeutic recreation (TR) curricula in the United States, and Canada when possible. One series started in 1970 with the last reported data in 2010 (Anderson, Ashton-Shaeffer, & Autry, 2000; Anderson & Stewart, 1980; Autry, Anderson, & Sklar, 2010; Stein, 1970; Stewart & Anderson, 1990). The other series started in 1999 with the last reported data in 2013 (Stumbo & Carter, 1999a, 1999b; Stumbo, Carter, & Folkerth, 2007; Stumbo, Carter, & Kim, 2004a, 2004b; Stumbo, Carter, Wilder, & Greenwood, 2013). The purpose of this study was to examine the data across both series to identify curriculum trends over time. The major findings include that most TR programs were most likely to be housed in a College of Education and a Department of Recreation and Leisure Services. Faculty numbers have fluctuated slightly over time, with the number of persons at the instructor rank rising and the number of persons in full professor positions rising in the early 2000s and then trending downward. The percentage of TR faculty who hold doctorates has also risen and fallen in the last decade. Faculty loads continue to be high with an average of three to four classes being taught per semester. Student enrollments have trended downward since a high in 1990. The majority of enrolled students have been female. Generally, estimated graduation rates rose, while estimated employment rates and certification rates fell. The number of TR courses required at the undergraduate level has increased over time. Accreditation of TR programs by COA (COAPRT, 2012 revised) has evidenced a downward trend. In addition to this micro-analysis of the data, a macro-analysis of future implications for TR higher education is also provided. 





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