Credit points


Campus offering

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SPHY612 Enhancing Clinical Reasoning in Rehabilitation for Speech Pathologists AND HLSC630 Holistic Rehabilitation and Restoration 1

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

SPHY604 offers students the opportunity to update and enhance theoretical knowledge and skills to a post graduate level aimed at optimising speech pathology assessment and management of cognitive communication disorders. Guided practice supported by a deeper understanding of the complexities of language processing as well as the effects of ageing and neurological problems on language and interactions; and the impact of cognition on performance and participation; will be explored. Advanced knowledge and skills will enhance clinical reasoning and determination of evidenced-based strategies aimed at maximisng recovery and participation. The aim of this unit is to encourage students to further develop and apply their advanced knowledge and skills and demonstrate critical analysis of language disorders, apply evidenced based strategies to manage clients as well as enhance leadership and advocacy skills with professional colleagues and the broader community.

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 - Integrate, apply and critically discuss enhanced knowledge of the neurological basis of cognitive communication disorders (GA3, GA4, GA5);

LO2 - Apply evidence-based knowledge and skills to formulate, justify and perform holistic, person centred assessment as an optimal basis for managing complex clients with cognitive communication disorders. (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9);

LO3 - Critique and select holistic management approaches for cognitive communication disorders and implement evidenced based treatment and behavioural strategies to manage complex clients (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9); 

LO4 - Analyse the implications of providing evidenced based, holistic and functional management of cognitive communication disorders in the student's clinical setting, as well as on their role and professional growth in leadership and advocacy within their discipline. (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8).

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 

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

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


Topics will include: 

Cognition, Perception and Behaviour  

  • The ageing brain and effects on cognition and language  
  • Principles of neural plasticity and neuropsychological rehabilitation  
  • Functional assessment of cognition – review of assessment approaches  
  • Interaction of cognition, language and behaviour 
  • Evidence-based practice in relation to cognitive rehabilitation and strategies to manage impairments 

Neural basis of language 

  • Understanding the neurological basis of language 
  • Theories of language processing 

Cognitive communication disorders

  • Dementia and related disorders
  • Neurodegenerative disorders 
  • Right hemisphere lesions 
  • Left hemisphere lesions 
  • Traumatic brain injury 
  • Beyond the cortical lesions

Assessment of cognitive communication

  • Functional assessment of cognitive communication disorders - review of assessment approaches 
  • Understanding cognitive communication disorders utilising the ICF framework  
  • Goal setting in managing cognitive communication disorders 
  • Critical review of outcome measures in cognitive communication disorders

Evidence-based interventions  

  • Critical review of evidenced based interventions for  cognitive communication disorders in: 
  • right hemisphere lesions 
  • left hemisphere lesions 
  • traumatic brain injury 
  • dementia and related disorders
  • beyond the cortical lesions 
  • Participation approaches to the management of cognitive communication disorders – maximising function  

Knowledge translation, advocacy and leadership  

  • Understanding knowledge translation principles for clinical research to practice   
  • Applying evidence to clinical decision making for speech pathology practice and considering stakeholders, benefits, risks and costs involved in maintaining or changing practice
  • Advocacy and leadership in different clinical settings 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered through multi-mode and online delivery for specific on and offshore cohorts. Both modes aim to facilitate learner activities and workplace learning. Learning and teaching strategies within this unit are based on a blend of constructivism, social constructivism, and experiential learning. These strategies focus on active participation and developing a community of inquiry. Purposefully designed content and activities that are the same or similar for all students regardless of the mode of delivery have been identified. This has led to the development of purposefully designed learning activities that are transferable and work well across both delivery mediums whilst maintaining the flexibility to create and deliver mode specific activities focusing on inquiry-based learning principles aimed at encouraging critical thinking, application of knowledge and skills, evidence for practice, collaborative peer learning, and critical self-reflection.  

In addition, students participate in individual and small group activities based on analysis of current practice, to assimilate application of enhanced knowledge and facilitate translation of learning into practice. Engagement in extended dialogue is encouraged to guide change to a more interprofessional, person-centred practice. Unit activities include, but are not limited to: guided readings, synchronous and asynchronous on-line tutorials, work-based activities with reflection, use of a reflective journal during experiential learning, skill development, and mentoring to enhance practice. Activities undertaken in both modes are aimed to facilitate acquisition of advanced knowledge and skills in collaborative and assessment and intervention planning strategies.

Assessment strategy and rationale

SPHY604 assessments have been purposefully designed to replicate authentic clinical practice. Significantly, the assessment tasks for this unit have been designed from an “Assessment for Learning” approach in order to not only provide evidence for judgement of learning, but also to reinforce, facilitate and support learning and application of learning. The assessment tools have been designed to provide for a broad range of activities aligned to andragogic principles of adult learning, facilitating choice and self-direction for the post graduate student. The design enables timely judgement to ensure students have appropriate knowledge and skills prior to the workplace application segment of the unit. In addition, the range of assessment activities at the end of the unit encourage application of evidence to practice and embed clinical reasoning, problem solving and implementation of advanced knowledge and skills.   

In the first assessment task students will provide a critical analysis of a client with a cognitive communication disorder and apply advanced knowledge of neuroanatomy and neuropathology underpinning the impairment and application to the individual client. The focus of the the second and third assessment tasks, is to reflect on personal and collaborative practice, and communicate reflections, evidence-based reasoning and decision making, to management and peers. The second assessment task enables students to demonstrate the application of advanced skills in the delivery on an evidence-based intervention with a client, their clinical reasoning and clinical decision making. In the educational seminar students will analyse the evidence-base for managing a specific cognitive impairment. In the third assessment task, students will outline and appraise relevant evidence and communicate an implementation plan for this evidence practice gap within their work setting. 

In addition to assessing enhanced clinical skills, a major focus of the second and third assessment tasks, is the ability to reflect on personal and collaborative practice, and communicate reflections, evidence-based reasoning and decision making, to management and peers. These assessments incorporate the advanced level of professional knowledge and skills, enhanced critical analysis and professional presentation modes developed throughout the post graduate program. Scheduling of assessments will be equitable for both modes of delivery. Assessment tasks may be delivered and assessed locally and with moderated according to University Policies and Procedures. All assessments will be submitted electronically. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1

Assignment - Critical analysis of a case study 

Enables students to provide a critical analysis of a client with a cognitive communication disorder and apply advanced knowledge of neuroanatomy and neuropathology underpinning the impairment and application to the individual client. 


LO1, LO2 

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9 

Assessment 2

Case Study Examination 

Enables students to demonstrate advanced practice in the management of a client with a cognitive communication disorder and communicate evidence-based reflections, reasoning and decision making.


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9 

Assessment 3

Educational seminar to peers with reflective critique and resource development 

Enables students to develop practice knowledge and skills, and communicate reflections, evidence-based reasoning and decision making, to management and peers.


LO3, LO4 

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Bhatnagar, S (2018). Neuroscience for the study of communicative disorders (5th ed.). Baltimore, MA: Lippincott William & Wilkins.

Brady, M, Kelly H, Godwin J, Enderby, P. & Campbell P. (2016). Speech and language therapy for aphasia following stroke (Review). The Cochrane Collaboration: The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, Issue 6, p.CD000425  

Cicerone, KD, Langenbahn, DM, Braden, C, Malec, JF, Kalmar, K, Fraas, M, Felicetti, T, Laatsch, L, Harley, JP, Bergquist, T, Azulay, J, Cantor, J, & Ashman T (2011) Evidence based Cognitive Rehabilitation: Updated Review of the Literature From 2003 Through 2008. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 92(4), 519-530  

Foster, A, Worrall, L, Rose, M, & O’Halloran, R (2013). Turning the tide: Putting acute aphasia management back on the agenda through evidence based practice. Aphasiology 27(4), 420-443.  

Teasell, R and Hussein, N (2016). The Cognitive Impairment Post Stroke. Chapter 5 in Stroke Rehabilitation Clinician Handbook. Evidence based Review of Stroke Rehabilitation (EBRSR)  

Simmons-Mackie, N, King, J, & Beukelman, D (Eds.). (2013). Supporting communication for adults with acute and chronic aphasia. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing Co  

Worrall, L, Sherratt, S, Rogers, P, Howe, T, Hersh, D, Ferguson, A, & Davidson, B (2011). What people with aphasia want: Their goals according to the ICF. Aphasiology, 25(3), 309-322.  

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