Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


All Year 3 Semester 1 SPHY units

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit provides students with the opportunity to assimilate the Speech Pathology Australia range of practice areas of (ROPAs) within complex case scenarios. Speech pathologists are required to draw on their various knowledge bases, evaluate, integrate, and reason across and within the range of practice areas in order to provide evidence based assessment and intervention. Speech pathology practice is made more complex when the client's communication/swallowing condition(s) and/or the interaction between the client's condition and context present cultural, moral, ethical, legal, occupational, social/emotional and/or service delivery challenges.

In this unit, case scenarios will provide a platform for reflection, discussion, problem solving and decision making students will revisit content taught in earlier units, (in particular the ROPAs of paediatric and adult speech and language), but with increased complexity, enabling students to demonstrate Entry-Level skills in professional and occupational competencies

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 - Identify, 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 in conjunction with key stakeholders (GA4, GA8) 

LO2 - Demonstrate ethical, holistic, client-centred and culturally-appropriate practices in the assessment, analysis, planning and implementation of intervention for speech and language difficulties (GA2, GA3, GA7)

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


Graduate attributes

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 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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


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

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

  • 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-centred care
  • Culturally responsive practice

  • Culturally responsive service provision for
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities
  • Clients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

As students work through the cases, they will review and apply the following knowledge and skills:

  • Speech Pathology Australia Professional Competencies (Units 1-4);
  • Reasoning
  • Communication
  • Learning
  • Professionalism

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit utilises an inquiry-based learning framework. Students are presented with unfamiliar complex 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 utilise their knowledge of the Competency-based Occupational Standards (CBOS) units of assessment, analysis and interpretation, planning of intervention, and implementation of intervention (CBOS 1-4) as well as the foundational professional competencies of reasoning, communication, learning and professionalism to formulate diagnoses and management plans for complex clinical cases which involve multiple range of practice areas, but primarily focus on paediatric and adult speech and language. Cases will also present students with additional considerations related to cultural, moral, ethical, legal, occupational, social/emotional and/or service delivery factors. 

To be successful in this unit students must utilise, apply and expand on knowledge gained during previous theoretical and practical units from the Bachelor of Speech Pathology. 

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.

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

Assessment 2 and Assessment 3 (independent case-based exams) are graded hurdles which students must pass in order to pass the unit. This is a requirement of the accrediting body, Speech Pathology Australia, to ensure students only pass the unit when they have demonstrated the required competencies in the speech and language range of practice areas (ROPAs) with adults and children. The exams will allow students to demonstrate their ability to undertake clinical reasoning and resolve clinical dilemmas. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1 (Group case presentations): 

Students will undertake 2 group presentations that will require them to identify their diagnosis and intervention plan for clients (one paediatric and one adult) with speech and language difficulties and explain their clinical reasoning. They will be assessed on the comprehensiveness of their responses, their reasoning skills in justifying clinical decision-making, and the clarity/professionalism of their oral communication. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA7, GA8

Assessment 2 (Paediatric speech and language  case-based exam): Graded Hurdle

The exam will require students to respond independently to a complex case scenario involving a paediatric client with speech and language difficulties. They will be assessed on knowledge and skills relating to assessment, analysis, intervention planning and implementation in the ROPAs of paediatric speech and language. 


MUST PASS in order to pass the unit

LO1, LO2, LO3

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA7, GA8

Assessment 3 (Adult speech and language case-based exam): Graded Hurdle

 The exam will require students to respond independently to a complex case scenario involving a paediatric client with speech and language difficulties. They will be assessed on knowledge and skills relating to assessment, analysis, intervention planning and implementation in the ROPAs of adult speech and language. 


MUST PASS in order to pass the unit

LO1, LO2, LO3

GA2, GA4, GA8



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 


Re-attempt provisions for Graded Hurdle assessments  

A student who fails a graded hurdle assessment task on their first attempt will be offered the opportunity to re-attempt 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 the end of semester and a students’ final mark will be withheld until the task has been completed. 

Representative texts and references

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

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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