The department of communication sciences and disorders of the University of Cincinnati (UC) was the recipient of an ASHA-sponsored competition for an innovative academic program designed to recruit and educate doctoral students who will enter academic settings. UC will receive $150,000-$50,000 for each of the next three years-to implement its program.
In response to the critical shortage of individuals prepared to replenish the professorial pipeline in speech-language pathology, the University of Cincinnati (UC) has developed an innovative doctoral program called "Institutional Partnerships, Distance-Learning Enhanced Education, and a Three-Pronged Entry Approach" (IP-DLE-3) for implementation in the department of communication sciences and disorders (CSD).
The IP-DLE-3 program will be initiated in the fall of 2004, and will accommodate three doctoral students whose PhD training will be supported with funds from the ASHA doctoral training grant initiative and three additional students supported with matching funds from UC. The program is based on a model that addresses the concerns and captures the essence of solutions provided by speech-language pathology colleagues from around the country, including people in the professorate as well as potential applicants in search of creative possibilities for entry into speech-language pathology PhD programs. The grafting of ideas from these sources together with information from published literature in the area of doctoral education has resulted in this newly developed component of the UC CSD PhD program.
The IP-DLE-3 program will employ institutional partnerships among the UC program and university programs in the United States that offer only a terminal master's or bachelor's degree in speech-language pathology. The main objective of the program is to increase the number of PhD-level speech-language pathologists who are qualified to serve as researchers and teachers in academic settings.
Special accommodations have been built into this "inclusive" program to facilitate the recruitment and retention of highly qualified, potential PhD students from groups that have been underrepresented in academia, including: "nontraditional" returning students who reside in locations that are at a distance from speech-language pathology PhD training programs and who, because of employment and/or personal commitments, are unable to travel away from their city of residence for extended periods of time; individuals who, because of their residence in rural locations, do not have accessibility to speech-language pathology PhD training opportunities; and individuals from racially/ethnically diverse backgrounds.
Increasing the number of PhD SLPs from these three untapped groups will help to increase the overall number of PhD-level SLPs working in academic teaching/research settings. This effort will also help to diversify the pool of teachers/researchers who by their service as academicians will have a major impact on the future direction of the profession.
- Institutional Partnerships
The IP-DLE-3 Program expands the existing UC PhD program by establishing partnerships with other universities. These partnerships will allow UC to develop a distance learning-enhanced program that will provide the IP-DLE-3 PhD student with solid, ongoing support from both UC faculty and faculty in their home city. This is important in order to ensure a high-caliber educational experience comparable to that of students who matriculate through the traditional UC PhD program.
Toward that end, each IP-DLE-3 PhD student will have a "UC Major Advisor" who will take a lead role as mentor/advisor as is done with students who matriculate through the traditional program. The advisor will be responsible for helping the student develop a suitable plan of study and will serve as the student's primary mentor for the specialty/content area and for matters relating to research, pedagogy, and clinical supervision skill training.
Each IP-DLE-3 student will also have two "On-Site Co-Advisors"-an "On-Site Administrative Advisor" and an "On-Site Specialty/Content Area Advisor"-who reside in the student's city of residence. The On-Site Administrative Advisor will be available to provide the student with face-to-face assistance in matters relating to program logistics. The On-Site Specialty/Content Area Advisor will be regularly available to provide face-to-face opportunities for dialogue and assistance with information relating to the specialty/content area and day-to-day research activities. This collaborative advisor model will ensure that the student has solid logistical and content support from both the lead institution (UC) and a university in the student's city of residence.
Partnering institutions for this first cycle of students will be the University of Hawaii, Southwest Missouri State University, and Xavier University of Louisiana. They were selected as partners because of their shared vision of enhancing PhD opportunities for SLPs; their ability to identify and refer interested and qualified applicants from our target PhD applicant pool; and their commitment to partnering with UC faculty to provide inter-institutional Co-Advising/Mentoring.
Applicants are required to submit names, letters of support, and credentials/curricula vitae for potential On-Site Administrative Advisors and the On-Site Specialty Content Area Advisors. These materials are considered by the UC Doctoral Admissions Committee during the applicant review process in order to ensure that the UC Major Advisor will be able to construct an individualized program of study that will provide the student with ongoing research support, solid academic support in the specialty content area, and logistical programmatic support.
- Distance Learning-Enhanced Education
The IP-DLE-3 Program expands the existing UC PhD program by its inclusion of a distance learning-enhanced component to promote and ensure regular face-to-face-contact among the IP-DLE-3 students, those matriculating through the traditional UC PhD program, the UC Major Advisor/Mentor, and UC faculty. Courses will be designed and scheduled so that they can be taken simultaneously by the IP-DLE-3 program students and students in the traditional program, using Internet II resources (e.g., H.323-compatible video system).
- Three-Track System for Entering into the PhD Program
A multi-pronged approach to PhD program entry is used to accommodate a variety of applicants ranging from returning professionals to students who wish to continue their course of advanced study without a break.
Track 1 is designed for returning students who have earned the MA and ASHA/CCC-SLP and who wish to enter directly into a PhD program. The Track 1 student will enter the UC PhD program in fall 2004. Minimal on-site residence requirements at UC will provide opportunities for them to earn PhD credits from a university in their home city. Track 1 students will be funded for course work at UC and at their home-site university, conference travel (1 per year to present research), and travel between home and UC for a two-week period each academic year.
Track 2 is designed for applicants who have earned a bachelor's degree in speech-language pathology and who wish to earn a master's degree at their home institution, while transitioning into the UC PhD program by simultaneously enrolling in a combined MA/PhD program. Track 2 students will be funded in the same manner as Track 1 students, and in addition, will be funded for the two years of MA training at their home institution. Track 2 students will also receive funding for distance learning-enhanced PhD transition coursework at UC in which they will be simultaneously enrolled during the second year of their master's program at the home institution.
Track 3 is designed for college seniors who will remain at their home institution while also participating in the UC undergraduate honors program. Upon completion of the bachelor's degree, Track 3 students will relocate to the UC campus to transition into a combined MA/PhD program. Track 3 students will be funded for education during their senior year of college, including funding for undergraduate honors program study and research, which will be conducted in collaboration with an advisor from UC and an advisor from the students' home institution. Track 3 students will also receive funding for their MA and PhD study at UC.
Accommodations will be made for Track 2 and 3 students to complete the master's clinical experiences and the CFY in a decelerated manner. The proposed program will represent an investment of three years for the student who enters the PhD program with credentials of MA, CCC-SLP (Track 1 student); four years for the student who enters a combined MA/PhD program upon completion of the BA (Track 2 student), and five years for the student who begins in the junior year of bachelor's study (Track 3 student).
For all students, program success is based on timely completion of the proposed doctoral program. Monitoring of successful matriculation will be supplemented by regular narrative updates provided by the on-site and home-site mentors and the UC PhD Committee during their regular review of each PhD student. Documentation of student progress will facilitate adjustments in program planning for individual students, will help identify factors affecting successful PhD program matriculation, and will enhance the fine-tuning process in preparation for future participants. In addition to monitoring progress at benchmark points, success for the Track 1 students will be based on successful placement in an academic teaching/research position at the time of graduation from the PhD program, which would coincide with the end of the ASHA funding period.
Using the Model
Although program capacity limits the number of students that any one program can admit, we hope that other universities will use this model or a version thereof, as a supplement to their traditional PhD program as we have done at UC. Adaptations will be necessary for program personalization, and challenges should be expected by the pioneers who are brave enough to attempt implementation. Readers of The ASHA Leader will be provided with updates as this program progresses.