Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Dr. Sandra Edwards

Second Advisor

Dr. Doris Smith

Third Advisor

Dr. George Robeck

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The effectiveness of teaching nonverbal communication skills to undergraduate students in an occupational therapy curriculum at Western Michigan University was explored by testing students just entering the program and students leaving the campus for their fieldwork experiences. A control group was made up of undergraduate students from curricula that did not purposely teach sensitivity to nonverbal cues. The 50 subjects were tested using the Profile of Nonverbal Sensitivity (PONS; Rosenthal, Hall, DiMatteo, Rogers, & Archer, 1979). Comparisons were made between PONS scores and the subject's area of study, length of time in the program, gender and age. Results showed that specific area of study, length of time in program, and gender were not significant predictors of one's ability to decode nonverbal cues. Younger age (less than 25 years) was a significant predictor of higher PONS total scores. Results were discussed and implications for occupational therapy curricula were considered.