American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Question 4

What are possible models for educating future speech-language pathologists?

This document will be divided into:

  • What do we want in a model?
  • Undergraduate Models
  • Graduate and Continuum Models
  • Next Steps

What do we want? What should our degree look like?

  • Coherence
  • Continuity of degrees
  • Common learning across programs
  • Competency-based
  • Communication consciousness
  • Classroom-clinical education
  • Basic foundation information
  • Different strategies for teaching: case presentation, service learning, observation integration, distance learning, new teaching models and hybrids, use of master clinician and experts, interactive teaching models, simulation technology, integration of academic and clinical
  • Each program develops unique instructional models linked to its university mission.
  • Collaboration within and across disciplines
  • Go from generalist to specialist
  • Evidence-based teaching, including practicum
  • Institute supervision standards
  • Flexible entry and multiple entry points
  • Quality indicators of programs, courses, and practicum sites
  • Consider assessment of outcomes, not just curriculum
  • Consider programs working together on a national level for course information
  • National prerequisites, "professionally" designed courses for lease/purchase, and a national clearinghouse of curricular offerings and teaching tools

Undergraduate Models

Model 1. Four or 5 years

  • Attempts to curb the overemphasis on disorders at the undergraduate level
  • Create a program with 3 years of courses at the bachelors level and a 4th year focused on intensive communication disorders
  • A professional 5-year program termed "BA+"
  • Weakness
  • Students might have a problem with integration of information

Model 2. Current model, with modifications

  • Goal: a well-educated individual who is prepared for graduate school
  • Not an entry-level degree; preparation for graduate school, with liberal arts and preprofessional combined
  • 4 years
  • Focus more on science foundation and normal speech and language acquisition; focus on broader issues
  • Place undergraduates out in the community earlier so that they are exposed to the clinical aspect of the field before graduate school
  • More application of theory to practice
  • More agreement, nationally, among programs
  • Consider a discipline-specific national exam for entrance into graduate school

Model 3. The liberal arts/sciences major

  • Liberal arts education with a focus on hard sciences, math, foreign language, research and statistics, computer and information sciences, social sciences (sociology, anthropology, psychology, linguistics), communication sciences (normal development courses, anatomy and physiology) and communication disorders (basic foundations)
  • Basic prerequisites: introduction to CSD, phonetics, anatomy and physiology, neuroanatomy, developmental psycholinguistics, acoustics/speech and hearing science

Themes in all undergraduate models

  • We need evidence that our undergraduate programs are effective.
  • We need discussions on recruitment into undergraduate programs.
  • The undergraduate curriculum is a key issue, and there may not be consensus on what it should be; some programs have very few CSD courses, while others have many.
  • Technology needs to be used more.
  • We need a national discussion regarding the undergraduate curriculum and purpose of the undergraduate degree.

Graduate, Master's (Post-BA) Models

Model 1. Continuum of education models

  • Relates to Model 1 above, a professional 5-year program, BA/MA combined
  • 1 additional year to complete a clinical doctorate
  • PhD: an additional 30 hours plus dissertation or PhD bridge from bachelor's
  • Variation of this theme: CF completed during a 30-hour postmaster's; additional course work, possibly distance, enabling more people to be PhD-ready
  • Another variation: 3-year undergrad and 3- year master's. After 3 years undergraduate, students could enter the master's or choose a 4th year and get a degree

Model 2. Current master's with modifications

  • Bachelor's degree followed by master's
  • CF plus additional course work
  • Modified CF that would put the burden on the employer (on-the-job training)
  • Use patient simulators and other technologies to help prepare students for modified CF
  • Package low-incidence areas to help consolidate competencies
  • Use university course sharing for course work, especially low incidence
  • Generalist master's with add-on specialist credential as an option

Model 3. Entry-level clinical doctorate

  • Entry-level clinical doctorate model (e.g., doctor of audiology, doctor of physical therapy)
  • 3 years after undergraduate including internship
  • More time to integrate knowledge (i.e., move students gradually into clinic)

Model 4. Clinical doctorate for specialized settings

  • Not an entry-level degree
    • master's, then
    • Certificate of Clinical Competence, followed by
    • a clinical doctorate or PhD
  • Can address medical setting, school setting, or disorder specialty
  • Clinical doctorate in speech-language pathology allows for advocacy regardless of setting
  • Master's degree still valued (generalist degree)

Next Steps and Questions

Where Do We Go From Here?

  • How can universities work together and collaborate?
  • Can we examine the undergraduate curriculum? Is there room for difference or do we need a standard national curriculum?
  • How can we learn different pedagogical techniques, national models of teaching? Can we increase opportunities for distance learning?
  • Can we focus on competence, not clock hours?
  • Can ASHA or the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders help with teaching resources, journals, continuing education related to teaching?
  • Do we need to keep the CF? What is its value? Are their different models?
  • Do we need a summit regarding undergraduate preparation?

The overarching theme of all eight groups was that we are not yet ready for, nor do we need, a clinical doctorate as the entry-level degree into speech-language pathology. Most groups advocated for a high-quality specialized clinical doctorate as an optional degree.

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