Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


(SPHY305 Speech Pathology Practice 3B AND SPHY303 Voice Disorders Across the Lifespan AND SPHY304 Fluency Disorders Across the Lifespan AND SPHY310 Community Development, Public Health and Speech Pathology ) OR (SPHY304 Fluency Disorders Across the Lifespan AND SPHY305 Speech Pathology Practice 3B AND SPHY307 Complex Cases in Speech Pathology AND SPHY308 Multimodal Communication Across the Lifespan ) AND (ALHT405 Honours Research Design OR ALHT413 Honours Research Project Implementation for Allied Health )


SPHY410 Speech Pathology Professional and Reflective Practice 4A data-versionlabel=2 >, SPHY403 Speech Pathology Practice 4a (Honours)

Unit rationale, description and aim

Speech pathologists are required to engage in professional, ethical, and evidence-based practice, drawing on skills in reasoning and reflection to provide appropriate services for individuals, families and communities that address communication and swallowing needs and enable human flourishing. This is the sixth of seven professional practice units in the Bachelor of Speech Pathology and enables students to apply their knowledge and skills from all previous theoretical and professional practice units to demonstrate entry-level competence.

In this unit, students undertake an extended period of professional practice experience across one or more of the Speech Pathology Australia range of practice areas of speech, language, voice, fluency, swallowing, and multimodal communication.

Students are expected to demonstrate entry level competency across assessment, analysis and interpretation, intervention planning and implementation of intervention (CBOS Units 1-4) within the range of practice area/s experienced on professional placement. Additionally, students will demonstrate entry-level skills in the professional competencies of reasoning, communication, lifelong learning and professionalism. Finally, students will be expected to develop and demonstrate skills in managing service delivery, supervisory practice and reflective practice.

The aim of this unit is to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their competency in working with children or adults across the continuum of care, at the level required for entry into the profession. The unit also provides honours students with the opportunity to demonstrate their developing skills in critical analysis, evaluation and translation of research literature to speech pathology practice.

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 - Demonstrate the Professional Competencies of Reasoning, Communication, Learning and Professionalism, as defined by Speech Pathology Australia, to entry-level as rated on the Competency Assessment in Speech Pathology (COMPASS®) (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9) 

LO2 - Demonstrate the Occupational Competencies of assessment, analysis and interpretation, intervention planning, and intervention (CBOS Units 1-4) as defined by Speech Pathology Australia, to entry-level as rated on the Competency Assessment in Speech Pathology (COMPASS®) (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9) 

LO3 - Demonstrate the Occupational Competencies of managing speech pathology services, professional and supervisory practice and lifelong learning and reflective practice (units 5-7) approaching entry level (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9).

LO4 - Critically analyse, evaluate and translate research literature to demonstrate advanced knowledge/skill of speech pathology practice in the context of a near-entry level placement. (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)    

Graduate attributes

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

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 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Competency and Range of Practice Areas of focus:

  • Expectations of the entry level student in adult or paediatric speech, language, voice, fluency, swallowing and multi-modal communication.
  • Assimilating and applying previously learnt knowledge and skills to workplace settings. 

Professional Competencies of focus:

  • Reasoning
  • Professional (clinical) reasoning and the ICF: Worldview and sociocultural perspectives: Catholic social teaching (human rights and human dignity).
  • Independent use of sound EBP processes to support professional reasoning and therefore decision-making.
  • Communication
  • Communicating effectively and respectfully with the consumer, family and support members, and other professionals in practice. 
  • Working collaboratively and respectfully in teams.
  • Managing difficult communication.
  • Lifelong learning
  • Using critical reflection skills independently in the placement context.
  • Engaging in reflection to shape learning. 
  • Progress reviews.
  • Professional development.
  • Personal and professional learning goals.
  • Professionalism
  • Consolidating identity as a speech pathologist, with points of difference related to style, background, skills and the ACU course content.
  • Time and caseload management.
  • Support strategies.
  • Service delivery models.
  • QA process.

Occupational Competencies of focus:

  • Unit 7
  • 7.2: quality improvement.
  • 7.4: Reflect on, discuss and/or demonstrate the role of speech pathologists in advocating for consumers and the profession.

Practice Principles of focus:

  • Practice Context and Evidence base
  • Complex presentations.
  • Ethical challenges and the Speech Pathology Australia Code of Ethics.
  • Culturally secure and responsive practice
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse populations and the Entry level speech pathologist.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the entry level speech pathologist.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This is the penultimate professional practice unit, and as such, is an important opportunity for students to gain workplace experience prior to entering the profession. The blended approach to this unit acknowledges that students will be experiencing a range of contexts, supervision styles and client types throughout the semester. Students will also be engaged in professional practice placement at different times during the semester, so staff have designed unit activities to accommodate scheduling of placement.  

This unit is comprised of approximately 250 hours of professional practice experiences, which are conducted external to the University or within on-campus speech pathology clinics. These experiences are integral to the development of competency as a speech pathologist, and enable the student to further develop their skills, knowledge and attitudes within a ‘real world’ context. Students participate in these experiences individually, in pairs, or in small groups and are supervised by qualified speech pathologists who support learning and development of competencies. In addition to the professional practice experiences, approximately 50 hours of learning activities including tutorials, group and individual discussions, self-directed learning activities and assessment tasks are completed. These activities foster peer learning, reflective practice, professional reasoning and shared problem solving, and expose students to workplace contexts which they might not individually experience.  

All content is designed to assist the development of students’ professional skill and identity as a speech pathologist to entry (or near entry) level competency across the relevant range of practice areas of the Competency Based Occupational Standards (CBOS) for speech pathologists.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

To pass this unit students are required to demonstrate entry level (or near entry) competency on the professional and Competency-based Occupational Standards set by Speech Pathology Australia for the range of practice areas engaged with on professional practice placement. Students must also demonstrate entry level knowledge and skill via an objective structured competency exam and a quality assurance project.

Professional Practice Placement: All aspects of the student’s daily performance is assessable during the placement period, as competency is developed and assessed dynamically from the first to the last day of placement by the Professional Practice Educator (PPE), the speech pathologist supervising the student. Student performance is assessed against behavioural descriptors which reflect/demonstrate a hierarchy of competency development, from novice to intermediate to entry level and form the basis of the rubric used for placement assessment. The student is provided with formal formative feedback approximately midway through the placement, and summative feedback at the end of the placement period using an assessment tool called COMPASS®. Students will also be required to submit a self-assessment at both mid and final placement using this tool. 

COMPASS® is a psychometrically validated assessment instrument that provides a measure of speech pathology student competence, and is recommended by Speech Pathology Australia. COMPASS® has been developed to assist in the evaluation of speech pathology students’ performance in the workplace, to identify their learning needs and to determine their readiness to enter the professional workforce. The tool incorporates resource materials to assist the educator and student in the process of developing the student’s competence1.  

Objective structured clinical exam: The OSCE is an Ungraded Hurdle task, 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.  

Quality assurance project: Students will complete a quality assurance project while undertaking their professional practice placement. Evaluating the efficiency, effectiveness and quality of service provision is an element of planning, providing and managing speech pathology services (CBOS Unit 5). This assessment enables students to demonstrate their competency in this important professional practice activity.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Completion of Professional Practice Placement including: 

  • Completion of mandatory tasks 
  • a grade on COMPASS at entry or near entry level 

Pass/ fail 

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9

Objective Structured Clinical Exam 

Students will demonstrate clinical skills in assessment and intervention. 

Ungraded Hurdle 



GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Quality assurance project:

Students will undertake a quality assurance/improvement project while completing the professional practice experience. The project will meet a need identified by the placement site. 

Ungraded hurdle 


LO1, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9

In order to be successful in this unit, students must pass the professional practice experience (placement), the objective structured clinical exam and the quality assurance project. 

A student who fails the professional practice experience will fail the unit and will not complete the OSCE.  

A student who fails the OSCE or quality assurance assessment task on their first attempt will be offered the opportunity to re-submit the assessment task. If the task is passed on the second attempt, the student will pass the unit. If the assessment task is failed on the second attempt, the student will fail the unit. 

Representative texts and references

 Haynes, W. O. M & Pindzola, R. H (2016). Diagnosis and evaluation in speech pathology (9th ed.). Allyn & Bacon. ISBN-10: 0137071329 | ISBN-13: 978-0137071326.  

Higgs, J., Aijawi, R., McAllister, L., Trede, F., & Loftus, S. (2012). Communicating in the health sciences (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. 

Higgs, J., Jensen, G. M., Loftus, S., & Christensen, N. (2019). Clinical reasoning in the health professions (4th ed.). Elsevier.

Meyer, S. M. (2004). Survival guide for the beginning speech-language clinician (2nd ed.). Pro-Ed. 

Speech Pathology Australia. (2017). Competency-based occupational standards for speech pathologists revised. Available from

Stagnitti, K., Schoo, A., & Welch, D. (Eds). (2010). Clinical and fieldwork placement in the health professions. Oxford University Press. 

 World Health Organization (2001). International classification of functioning, disability and health. Geneva: World Health Organization. 

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