Professor Uses Fulbright to Promote Occupational Justice Impact Banner

    Professor Uses Fulbright to Promote Occupational Justice

    Michael Bermudez, Ed.D., assistant professor of occupational therapy at The University of Scranton, will research “Educational Technology for Inclusive Learning in Uganda” through the Fulbright Scholar Program. Through the Fulbright research and teaching award, he will spend six months with faculty of the Special Needs and Rehabilitation Department at Kyambogo University, Kampala, Uganda.
    July 5, 2022

    Michael Bermudez, Ed.D., assistant professor of occupational therapy at The University of Scranton, received the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program teaching and research award to Uganda for 2022-2023. Dr. Bermudez will spend six months working with faculty of the Special Needs and Rehabilitation Department at Kyambogo University, Kampala, Uganda, teaching undergraduate students studying in the occupational therapy and educational technology fields, as he researches “Educational Technology for Inclusive Learning in Uganda.”

    Dr. Bermudez will study perceptions of college students regarding the use of educational technology before and after introducing student learning experiences with 3-D Printer and simple circuit technologies.

    “I am hoping this research project will lead to a better understanding of ways to overcome barriers regarding the use and application of educational technologies that can open the doors for women and minority student populations and lead to the creation and application of education technology tools that will improve learning for people with disabilities in Uganda and other countries,” said Dr. Bermudez, who explained that many women and minority students in the US tend to be more hesitant in using technology. “Overcoming barriers of perception can release untapped potential for new applications that can then improve the lives and learning of so many others. The impact can be exponential.”

    Dr. Bermudez is optimistic about the potential based on a pilot study he completed last Spring of 2022 at Scranton, through which occupational therapy students participated in small groups to use circuit boards to create their own adaptive educational tools for people with disabilities, such as communication boards.

    Dr. Bermudez said some of the students at Scranton were at first apprehensive about using the technology, but their perceptions and enthusiasm towards its use changed after their classroom experience. He is hopeful he will see similar results with undergraduate students in Uganda. He will also let these students design assistive devices for children with disabilities to be produced in a 3D printer which he will bring to Uganda,

    In addition to his teaching and research, Dr. Bermudez will serve in Ugandan communities to help assess the abilities of children with disabilities to participate in more inclusive education..

    “Children everywhere deserve the ability to play and learn. Occupational therapy and educational technology can help them better achieve these basic human needs,” said Dr. Bermudez. “I hope to help develop ‘occupational justice’ mindsets; that is, to help ensure a person’s right to engage in activities—including participation in school or participating in activities of daily living.”

    Dr. Bermudez, who joined the faculty at Scranton in 2019 after practicing in the field for nearly 20 years, said he is grateful for the support he received from the University throughout the competitive Fulbright application process.

    “Despite the arduous process, I would encourage faculty to apply to this program. The Provost’s Office, the Panuska College of Professional Studies Dean’s Office, fellow faculty, staff members and my students – everyone at Scranton was helpful and encouraging throughout the process,” said Dr. Bermudez, who credits his students for recommending he look at Uganda as a location for his research.

    “Some of my students knew of my interest to expand my research in educational technology beyond the United States, and suggested I consider Uganda after they returned from a service trip there,” said Dr. Bermudez.

    At Kyambogo University, Dr. Bermudez will work with Eli Katunguka Rwakishaya, Ph.D., vice-chancellor; Lawrence Eron, Ph.D., dean of the Department of Special Needs and Rehabilitation; Stackus Okwaput, Ph.D. research fellow and head of the Department of Special Needs; and James Bulenzibuto, head of International Relations.

    Dr. Bermudez earned his bachelor’s degrees from the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines and the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, and his master’s degree and doctorate from New Jersey City University.

    Widely considered to be the premier international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, the Fulbright program awards grants to faculty and professionals as well as to student scholars. Since 1972, a total of 127 University students have been awarded Fulbrights.

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