Credit points


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SPHY303 Voice Disorders Across the Lifespan AND SPHY304 Fluency Disorders Across the Lifespan AND SPHY305 Speech Pathology Practice 3B

Unit rationale, description and aim

Speech pathologists are expected to engage in professional reasoning, drawing on their various knowledge bases, practice frameworks (EBP, ICF, person /family-centred care) and client/context factors, in order to provide evidence based assessment and intervention to individuals with communication and/or swallowing difficulties. This is the first of two units that provide students with the opportunity to apply their professional (clinical) reasoning skills in case scenarios, covering the breadth of Speech Pathology Australia range of practice areas (e.g., speech, language, voice, fluency, multi-modal communication and swallowing).

In this unit, case scenarios will provide a platform for reflection, discussion, problem solving and decision making. Students will work through cases focused on either an adult or paediatric population with communication and/or swallowing disorders. The population will align with the caseload in their professional practice experiences in SPHY400/403. In Semester 2, students will complete a second professional reasoning unit focused on the alternative population.

In previous units, students have demonstrated their understanding of theoretical content associated with each range of practice area (ROPA), and drawn upon this to plan assessment and intervention for individuals with impairments affecting a single ROPA. In this unit, students will revisit content taught in earlier units but with

increased complexity. The aim of this unit is for students to demonstrate Entry-Level skills in professional and occupational competencies across multiple ROPAs, which is required for future professional practice.

Finally, this unit contains a learning outcome from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework (HCF, 2014) specifically addressing the HCF cultural capability- Culturally safe communication

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Critically evaluate and integrate information gathered about a case from all relevant clinical and scientific sources and use this information to diagnose conditions and justify evidence based practice decisions (GA4, GA5, GA8)

LO2 - Apply ethical, holistic, person/family-centred and culturally-appropriate practices in the assessment, analysis, planning and implementation of intervention for communication and swallowing difficulties (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA5, GA7)

LO3 - Interact with clients, colleagues and/or context in a professional manner, and communicate professional reasoning, decisions and justification for decisions in written and oral forms for both professional and non-professional audiences (GA2, GA5, GA7)

LO4 - HCF 6.3* Incorporate knowledge and skills of culturally safe communication when interacting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and family members (ETP) (GA1, GA2, GA5)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include:

Inquiry-based Learning (IBL) cases will incorporate the following topics / issues:

  • Speech Pathology Australia Range of Practice Areas of;
  • Speech
  • Language
  • Voice
  • Fluency
  • Multimodal communication
  • Swallowing

Speech Pathology Australia Competency-based Occupational Standards (CBOS 1 – 4);

  • Assessment
  • Analysis and interpretation
  • Planning evidence-based speech pathology practice
  • Implementation of speech pathology practice

Health care ethics

  • Speech Pathology Australia Code of Ethics
  • SPA ethical principles in practice (beneficence and non-maleficence, truth, fairness (justice),
  • autonomy, professional integrity)
  • Ethical issues and professional practice
  • Ethical reasoning and deliberation in professional practice

Professional practice principles, including

  • ICF
  • Inter-professional practice
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Person/family-centred care

Culturally responsive service provision for

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities
  • Clients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit utilises an inquiry-based learning framework. Students are presented with unfamiliar speech pathology cases and need to work both autonomously and collaboratively to reflect on their current knowledge bases, identify and resolve gaps in their learning and in their knowledge about the case, then discuss and seek solutions to any clinical dilemmas. Inquiry-based learning is a student-centred learning approach that promotes self-directed independent and interdependent lifelong learning.

In this unit students will undertake tutorial activities that provide opportunities for consolidation of the occupational standards of assessment, analysis and interpretation, planning of intervention, and implementation of intervention (Competency-Based Occupation Standards Units 1-4) as well as the professional competencies

Course Review Bachelor of Speech Pathology (& Honours) to AB 20201125 of reasoning, communication, learning and professionalism. These activities will require them to formulate diagnoses and management plans for clinical cases which involve multiple range of practice areas; thus they will utilise, apply and expand on knowledge gained during previous theoretical and practical units from the Bachelor of Speech Pathology. Cases will also present students with additional considerations related to

cultural, moral, ethical, legal, occupational, social/emotional and/or service delivery factors that reflect authentic scenarios that may be encountered in professional practice.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment extends the case based and inquiry based learning strategies incorporated into this unit by requiring students to apply knowledge and critical thinking to authentic case scenarios. In addition, emphasis is placed on application of a range of key practice principles required by Speech Pathology Australia. Students will be provided with a variety of modes through which they can demonstrate their knowledge, application and skills.

The Ungraded Hurdle task is an objective structured clinical exam (OSCE), marked as satisfactory/unsatisfactory, and students must achieve a satisfactory grade on this in order to pass the unit. The OSCE will require students to demonstrate entry-level clinical skills across assessment and intervention tasks, aligned with CBOS units/elements for speech pathology. The OSCE will allow for an equitable, whole of cohort, independent assessment of students’ knowledge and skills. This is an accreditation requirement of Speech

Pathology Australia to ensure students are assessed to be at entry-level competence across these units/elements and range of practice areas.

Assessment 1 is a formative assessment that will enable students to present work undertaken in groups to identify clinical diagnoses and plan appropriate intervention for clients. This will enable students to receive early feedback on their professional reasoning skills, before they are required to demonstrate these skills independently in assessments 2 and 3.

Assessment 2 and Assessment 3 are Graded Hurdle tasks which students must pass in order to pass the unit. Assessment 2 is a written exam and Assessment 3 is an oral viva. Both will allow students to demonstrate their ability to undertake professional reasoning and resolve clinical dilemmas; however, they will focus on different range of practice areas. This is a requirement of the accrediting body, Speech Pathology Australia, to ensure students only pass the unit when they have demonstrated entry-level competencies across the ROPAs.


In order to successfully complete this unit, students must submit all assessment tasks and are required to:

  • obtain a cumulative mark that is equal to or greater than 50% of the possible marks available; AND
  • achieve 50% or greater on both Assessment 2 and Assessment 3 (these assessments are graded
  • hurdles which must be passed to pass the unit); AND
  • Achieve a satisfactory grade (Pass) the ungraded hurdle

Re-attempt provisions for Graded Hurdle assessment

A student who fails a graded hurdle assessment task on their first attempt will be offered the opportunity to reattempt the assessment if they achieve between 45-49% on the original assessment task. The re-attempt assessment task will be for a new case scenario of equal complexity and difficulty to the original task. If the assessment task is passed on the second attempt, the student can only receive a maximum final grade of 50% of the total marks available for the assessment task. If the assessment task is failed on the second attempt, the student will not pass the unit.

A student is only permitted to undertake a re-attempt of a graded hurdle task for one assessment item within any given unit. That is, if a student fails a second graded hurdle task within the one unit then they will have failed the unit. The opportunity to re-attempt the graded hurdle assessment will be scheduled in the deferred exam period at at the end of semester and a students’ final mark will be withheld until the task has been completed.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Objective Structured Clinical Exam

Students will demonstrate clinical skills in assessment and intervention.





in order to

pass unit



CBOS Alignment


1.3-1.4, 4.1-




Assessment 1: Group case presentations

Students will undertake a group presentation that will require them to

describe their diagnosis and intervention plan for a client with

communication/ swallowing difficulties and explain their professional




GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

CBOS Alignment


1.1-1.2, 1.4;

2.1-2.5; 3.1-

3.6; 4.5; 5.6;

6.1; 7.1-7.3


1.1-1.3; 2.1-

2.3; 4.2, 4.4-


Assessment 2: Case-based written exam (Graded Hurdle)

The exam will require students to respond independently to case

scenarios involving individuals with difficulties across ROPAs.



in order to

pass the unit


GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

CBOS Alignment


1.1-1.2; 2.1-

2.5; 3.1-3.7;



1.1-1.3; 2.2;

4.2, 4.4-4.5

Assessment 3: Oral viva (Graded Hurdle)

The oral viva will require students to respond independently to a series of

questions relating to a case scenario.



in order to

pass the unit


GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

CBOS Alignment


1.1-1.2; 2.1-

2.5; 3.1-3.7;



1.1-1.3; 2.1-

2.2; 4.2, 4.4-


Representative texts and references

Duch, B. J., Groh, S. E, & Allen, D. E. (Eds.). (2001). The power of problem-based learning. Stylus.

Hoffman, T., Bennett, S., & Del Mar, C. (2017). Evidence-based practice across the health professions (3rd ed.). Elsevier.

McAllister, L., & Rose, M. (2008). Speech-language pathology students: Learning clinical reasoning. In J. Higgs, M. Jones, S. Loftus, & N. Christensen (Eds) (pp. 397–404), Clinical reasoning in the health professions. Elsevier.

Speech Pathology Australia (2010). Speech Pathology Australia Code of Ethics. author.

Speech Pathology Australia (2010). Position Statement: Evidence-Based Practice in Speech Pathology. author.

Whitehill, T. L., Bridges, S. & Chan, K. (2014). Problem-based learning (PBL) and speech-language pathology: A tutorial. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 28(1-2), 5-23.

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