Distance education in therapeutic recreation/recreational therapy in the United States





online learning, professional preparation, university programs


Distance education (DE) today is a growing phenomenon in American colleges and universities, almost exclusively in the form of online courses. With the rapid development of DE, it has become a burgeoning force within college and university therapeutic recreation/recreational therapy (TR/RT) programs, at a time that there has been a decline in TR/RT professional preparation programs. DE is certainly a timely and important topic for the TR/RT profession. Yet, the development of DE in TR/RT has been largely neglected in the literature of TR/RT. Within this article, the evolution of DE in TR/RT is traced, and ramifications resulting from the developments of DE in TR/RT are considered.


Author Biographies

David R. Austin, PhD

School of Public Health, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana

Bryan P. McCormick, PhD

Department of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Anderson LS, Carter MJ, DiRenzo AA: Online teaching and learning: Perspectives of faculty and students from the cyber-trenches. Schole. 2022; 37(2): 112-122. DOI: 10.1080/1937156X.2021.1897901.

Viola S, Saeki E, Hendricker E: Distance education in graduate training programs: Lessons learned from school psychology students. J Educ Online. 2019; 16(2): 17.

Stearns PN: Why study history? Revisited. Perspectives in History. September 18, 2020. Available at https://www.historians.org/research-and-publications/perspectives-on-history/september-2020/why-study-history-revisited. Accessed December 14, 2023.

Kentnor HE: Distance education and the evolution of online learning in the United States. Curric Teach Dial. 2015; 17(1-2): S21.

Demiray U, Isman A: History of distance education. Sakarya Univ Fakültesi. 2003; 1: 88-108.

Sumner J: Serving the system: A critical history of distance education. OpenLearning. 2000; 15(3): 267-285. DOI: 10.1080/713688409.

Austin DR: Teaching over television: Indiana university’s distance learning program. Parks Recreat. 1997; 31: 22-23.

Greenhow C, Graham CR, Koehler MJ: Foundations of online learning: Challenges and opportunities. Educ Psychol. 2022; 57(3): 131-147.

Mayer RE: Thirty years of research on online learning. Appl Cogn Psychol. 2019; 33(2): 152-159. DOI: 10.1002/acp.3482.

Kim KJ, Bonk CJ: Online teaching and learning in higher education: The survey says. Educ Q. 2006; 29(2): 22-30.

Sadeghi M: A shift from classroom to distance education: Advantages and limitations. Int J Res Engl Educ. 2019; 4(1): 80-88.

Anderson SC, Ashton-Shaeffer C, Autry CE: Therapeutic recreation education: 1999 survey. Ther Recreat J. 2000; 34(4): 335-347.

Austin D, Perry D, Harnishfeger M, et al.: Graduate student perceptions of a televised master’s degree program. Schole. 1999; 14(1): 123-133. DOI: 10.1080/1937156X.1999.11949444.

Autry CE, Anderson SC, Sklar SL: Therapeutic recreation education: 2009 survey. Ther Recreat J. 2010; 44(3): 161-181.

Autry CE, Anderson SC, Sklar SL: The 2019 therapeutic recreation education survey: A 50-year comparison. Ther Recreat J. 2020; 54(4): 339-365. DOI: 10.18666/TRJ-2020-V54-I4-10420.

Stumbo NJ, Zahl ML, Pegg S: Selected issues and trends in higher education: Implications for therapeutic recreation. Ther Recreat J. 2013; 47(3): 169-178.

Anderson LS, Heyne LA, Thomas PK: Online learning and teaching in therapeutic recreation. In Stumbo N (ed.): Professional Issues in Therapeutic Recreation: On Competencies and Outcomes. Champaign, IL: Sagamore, 2017: 159-172.

Protopsaltis S, Baum S: Does online education live up to Its promise? A look at the evidence and implications for federal policy. January, 2019: 1-50. Available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330442019_Does_Online_Education_Live_Up_to_Its_Promise_A_Look_at_the_Evidence_and_Implications_for_Federal_Policy. Accessed April 17, 2030.

Castro MDB, Tumibay GM: A literature review: Efficacy of online learning courses for higher education institution using meta-analysis. Educ Inf Technol. 2021; 26(2): 1367-1385. DOI: 10.1007/s10639-019-10027-z.



How to Cite

Austin, D. R., & McCormick, B. P. (2024). Distance education in therapeutic recreation/recreational therapy in the United States. American Journal of Recreation Therapy, 23(1), 41–46. https://doi.org/10.5055/ajrt.0281