Credit points


Campus offering

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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 one of two units that provide students with the opportunity to apply their professional (clinical) reasoning skills to case scenarios, covering the breadth of communication and swallowing needs outlined in the Professional Standards for Speech Pathologists in Australia (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 a paediatric population with communication and/or swallowing disorders. This population aligns with the caseload for their professional practice experiences this semester.

In previous units, students have demonstrated their understanding of theoretical content associated with paediatric communication and swallowing practice areas and drawn upon this to plan assessment and intervention when impairment/s affected a single communication or swallowing area. 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 communication and/or swallowing areas for paediatric clients 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 analyse, interpret, and integrate information gathered about a paediatric case to diagnose conditions and justify evidence-based practice decisions (GA4, GA5, GA8)

LO2 - Apply ethical, holistic, person/family-centred and culturally responsive practice frameworks to the assessment, analysis, planning and implementation of intervention for paediatric communication and swallowing difficulties (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA5, GA7)

LO3 - Interact in a professional manner, and communicate professional reasoning, problem-solving 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:

Speech Pathology Australia practice areas of:


  • Speech
  • Language
  • Voice
  • Fluency
  • Multimodal communication


  • Mealtimes management and/or feeding

Speech Pathology Practice in the areas of Communication and Swallowing for paediatric populations:

  • assessment
  • analysis, interpretation, diagnosis and reporting appropriate to the audience
  • planning speech pathology intervention
  • implementing and evaluating speech pathology intervention


Professional Conduct

  • providing ethical and evidence-based practice (using frameworks such as the Speech Pathology Australia Code of Ethics, EBP framework, ICF framework, and person/family centred care)
  • providing safe and quality services (including culturally safe and responsive services)
  • collaborating with clients and their supports
  • collaborating with our colleagues (inter-professional practice)

Reflective Practice and Life-Long Learning

  • demonstrating self-awareness
  • identifying learning issues and planning personal development goals
  • acquiring and integrating knowledge from a range of sources
  • engaging in learning with other students

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit utilises an inquiry-based learning framework. Students are presented with unfamiliar paediatric 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 learning activities that provide opportunities for consolidation of professional conduct, reflective practice, life-long learning and speech pathology  practice. These activities will require students to create assessment plans, analyse, interpret, diagnose and report on assessments and create management plans for paediatric cases which involve multiple communication and/or swallowing practice areas. Students 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- and inquiry-based learning strategies incorporated into this unit by requiring students to apply knowledge and critical thinking to authentic paediatric 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 analysis and intervention tasks, aligned with competency standards for speech pathology for paediatric clients. 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 that students are assessed to be at entry-level competence across communication and swallowing practice areas.

Assessment 1 and Assessment 2 are Graded Hurdle tasks which students must pass in order to pass the unit. Assessment 1 is an oral viva and Assessment 2 is a written exam. Both will allow students to demonstrate their ability to undertake professional reasoning and resolve clinical dilemmas with paediatric clients; however, they will focus on different communication and/or swallowing 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 paediatric communication and swallowing areas of practice.


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 unit marks available; AND
  • achieve the stipulated pass standard or greater on both Assessment 1 and Assessment 2 (these assessments are graded hurdles which must be passed to pass the unit); AND
  • Achieve a satisfactory grade (Pass) on the ungraded hurdle (OSCE)

Re-attempt provisions for Graded Hurdle assessments

A student who does not meet the specified standard on a graded hurdle assessment task on their first attempt will be offered the opportunity to reattempt the assessment if they meet the specified re-sit criteria for that task. The re-attempt assessment task will be 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 by the teaching team at an appropriate time and a students’ final mark will be withheld until the task has been completed.

Re-attempt provisions for Ungraded Hurdle assessment.

A student who does not meet the pass standard required for an OSCE will have the opportunity to re-sit the OSCE task again. Students will be provided with two attempts at the OSCE. Students who do not meet the required standard on the second attempt will fail the task and thus will have failed the unit.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Ungraded Hurdle: Objective Structured Clinical Exam

Students will demonstrate clinical skills in assessment and intervention.



(satisfactory / unsatisfactory)


in order to

pass unit



1.3-1.4, 4.1-




GA1, GA2, GA3, GA5, GA7

Assessment 1: Oral viva (Graded Hurdle)

Students are required to respond independently to a series of questions relating to a paediatric case scenario.



in order to

pass the unit

LO1, LO2, LO3


1.1-1.2; 2.1-

2.5; 3.1-3.7;



1.1-1.3; 2.1-

2.2; 4.2, 4.4-


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

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

Students are required to respond independently to case

scenarios involving children with difficulties across communication and/or swallowing practice areas.



in order to

pass the unit

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4


1.1-1.2; 2.1-

2.5; 3.1-3.7;



1.1-1.3; 2.2;

4.2, 4.4-4.5

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

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 (2020). Code of Ethics. Author.

Speech Pathology Australia (2010). Position statement: Evidence-based practice in speech pathology. Author.

Speech Pathology Australia (2020). Professional standards for speech pathologists in Australia. 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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