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Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences: Graduate Programs

Overview: 

There are three graduate degrees in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

  • Master of Science (MS) in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences
  • Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

The Master of Science degree in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences is typically a 2-year course of study. The majority of students seeking this degree have an emphasis in clinical speech‐language pathology. Through academic coursework and supervised clinical practicum experiences, students are prepared for the professional practice of speech-language pathology. Coursework covers speech, language, and hearing sciences and the nature and treatment of communication disorders across the lifespan (a minimum of 36 graduate credit hours); clinical practicum provides experience across an array of disorder types. The program is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation a semi-autonomous body of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) in Speech-Language Pathology. Thus, the required coursework and clinical training address all of the ASHA Standards for the necessary knowledge and skills for speech-language pathology. 

The Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) program is a 4‐year course of study for a professional degree with a clinical emphasis in audiology. The program is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation of American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), which is distinct from the accreditation in speech-language pathology. The required coursework and clinical training address the ASHA Standards for the necessary knowledge and skills for audiology. Through academic coursework and supervised clinical practicum experiences, students are prepared for the professional practice of audiology. Academic coursework covers hearing sciences and the nature and treatment of hearing and balance disorders across the lifespan clinical practicum provides experience across an array of disorder types. 

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program prepares students for academic and research careers through coursework and participation in research projects. Our goal is the development of independent researchers and teachers.  Graduates gain a broad base of knowledge about human communication sciences and disorders and significant in-depth preparation in their special areas of concentration within the discipline.  

Expected Learning Outcomes: 

Expected Student Learning Outcomes for MS in Speech-Language Pathology

The training mission of the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at the University of Arizona is to provide academic and clinical training to students in speech-language pathology sufficient to achieve the following knowledge outcomes and skills.

  • Demonstrate the ability to comprehend basic principles of biological and physical sciences, mathematics and the social and behavioral sciences. (ASHA Standard III A)
  • Demonstrate the ability to analyze, synthesize and evaluate biological, acoustic, psychological, developmental, linguistic and cultural correlates of basic human communication processes and disorders including:  speech, receptive and expressive language in oral, written, and manual modalities, hearing, swallowing, cognitive aspects of communication, and social aspects of communication. (ASHA Standards III B & C)
  • Demonstrate the ability to analyze and evaluate information about prevention, assessment, and intervention over the range of communication disorders specified in the current ASHA Scope of Practice for audiology and speech-language pathology. (ASHA Standard III D)
  • Demonstrate the ability to analyze and synthesize relevant information regarding professional ethics and to interpret the principles of the ASHA Code of Ethics as they apply to the professional practice of audiology and speech-language pathology. (ASHA Standard III E)
  • Demonstrate the ability to comprehend the common principles of research and research design, both basic and applied, used in human communication sciences and disorders and to know sources of research information and how to access them. (ASHA Standard III F)
  • Demonstrate an understanding of issues currently having an impact on audiology or speech-language pathology as a profession. (ASHA Standard III G)
  • Demonstrate the ability to demonstrate speech and language skills necessary for effective interaction with clients/patients and their relevant others, for writing grammatical and substantive scientific and technical reports, diagnostic and treatment reports, treatment plans, and professional correspondence. (ASHA Standard IV B)
  • Demonstrate the application of appropriate knowledge and skills in the clinical setting as evidenced by on-going formative assessment (Standard V-B)

Expected Student Learning Outcomes for Doctor of Audiology

The AuD program prepares students for clinical practice in Audiology. The expected learning outcomes are highly specified with regard to the knowledge and skill expectations for audiology, and our coursework and clinical practica are designed to address all of the expected learning outcomes. The fully elaborated list from the ASHA standards.

Students are expected to acquire knowledge and skills in the following six areas:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the foundations of clinical practice in audiology (Standard IV-A)
  • Demonstrate knowledge of prevention and identification of disorders of hearing and balance (Standard IV-B
  • Demonstrate knowledge of assessment principles and procedures for hearing and balance disorders (Standard IV-C)
  • Demonstrate knowledge of principles and methods of intervention (treatment) of hearing disorders, balance disorders, and other auditory dysfunction (Standard IV-D)
  • Demonstrate understanding of principles of advocacy and consultation regarding hearing and balance disorders (Standard IV-E)
  • Demonstrate knowledge of research methods and administrative skills necessary for clinical practice (Standard IV-F)
  • Demonstrate the application of appropriate knowledge and skills in the clinical setting as evidenced by on-going formative assessment (Standard V-A)

Doctoral education is highly individualized, however, there are fundamental research competencies that all doctoral students are expected to achieve through laboratory experiences and coursework. These skills are detailed in the doctoral student handbook:     

Procedural competencies:

  • Knowledge of research instrumentation and hardware relevant to area of study.
  • Knowledge of general use software programs relevant to research and teaching  (e.g., Excel, Adobe, Powerpoint),  and  lab specific software (e.g.,  Matlab, SPM, EPrime, Direct  RT).    
  • The ability to search the literature, including searching electronic databases and being able to pursue a theme through the literature.
  • Knowledge and application of statistics and other mathematical models for understanding data.
  • How to keep lab records.
  • In some cases, knowledge of specific techniques  (e.g., ERP, dissection), that are necessary or beneficial for a specific area of research.        

Writing competencies

  • The ability to abstract and summarize information.
  • The ability to write in the style of publications in the field.
  • The ability to present information in poster format.  
  • The ability to write and manage human subjects‐related documents.  

Scientific competencies    

  • The ability to discuss research projects in terms of the scientific method and aspects of validity. 
  • The ability to design a research project that measures/manipulates a target effect and controls extraneous effects.
  • The ability to manage the day­‐to­‐day aspects of completing a research project from conceptualization through data collection and manuscript production.

 

Assessment Activities: 

MS-SLP Outcomes

The learing outcomes in speech-language pathology are examined at the end of the first year of the 2-year M.S. program and then again in a comprehensive examination administered during the last semester of the program. The examinations consist of written essays in response to questions that cover material from the first year of coursework.  Students select a subset of questions to answer (e.g., 6 out of 8), and performance is scored as High Pass, Pass, Needs Remediation, and Fail. PASS is the expected modal score, with only exceptional answers being scored as a High Pass.  The results of the First Year examinations are evaluated on an individual basis so that competencies are confirmed and individual remediation activities are determined as necessary. The faculty meet to review the outcomes of the examination and to confirm proper follow-up and satisfactory remediation as needed.

 

FIGURE 1. Outcomes from Comprehensive Exam for MS-SLP students from 2010-2017

0=Fail, 1=Low Pass, 2=Pass, 3=High Pass

The comprehensive examination at the end of the program provides confirmation that learning outcomes have been met and that students demonstrate the ability to integrate information across the curriculum. Similar to the 1st year exam, students select a subset of questions to answer, and they are scored High Pass, Pass, Low Pass, and Fail.  Figure 1 provides a summary of average competency ratings across a range of content areas in the MS-SLP program that were consistently sampled over the past 7 years (not the same questions, but the same content areas).  A score of 2 (Pass) is the target, with any scores greater than 2 indicating exceptional/honors level performance. The results indicate that the average response accuracy typically reaches the criterion level. It should be noted that grading for this exam is quite rigorous. This is evident when examining the results of the national competency examination (PRAXIS) that is taken by our students as they seek national certification (see TABLE I). This summative examination samples the same knowledge and skill set that comprise the learning objectives in our program. PRAXIS scores range from 250-990, with a passing score 600 or greater. All of our graduates pass the exam and their average scores are well above the national mean (734 vs. 667), confirming that the standards in our department are particularly high.

TABLE I. National Certification Examination Results in Speech-Language Pathology (PRAXIS)      

Academic Year # taking exam % passed UA Average National Mean (SD) n for Nat'l
Exam
2005-2006 19 100% 753 655 (70) 4,596
2006-2007 26 100% 705 657 (74) 4,841
2007-2008 14 100% 727 666 (69) 5,821
2008-2009 21 100% 727 669 (68) 6,050
2009-2010 14 100% 748 668 (67) 6,266
2010-2011 22 100% 733 671 (67) 6,612
2011-2012 20 100% 744 675 (68) 7,790
2012-2013 16 100% 760 684 (65) 7,477
2013-2014 24 100% 761 684 (64) 8,011
2014-2015 19 100% 189** 175 (13) 7,709
2015-2016 24 100% 189**   5,836
2016-2017 25 100% 189** 173 (13) 10,294

*only median available to date. PRAXIS scores range from 250-990, with a passing score 600 or greater. 

**PRAXIS scoring system revised; new scores range from 100-200, with a passing score 177 or greater.

Audiology Outcomes

Students in the Doctor of Audiology program take an examination at the end of the first year that is comparable to that of the MS-SLP students. This exam is formative in the sense that it allows for identification of knowledge that has been mastered and areas that require remediation. A comprehensive written examination is taken at the end of the 3rd year to determine whether mastery has been achieved for the targeted learning outcomes. This exam is comparable to that described for the MS-SLP students at the end of their program. Figure 2 provides 

FIGURE 2. Outcomes from Comprehensive Exam for AuD students from 2010-2017

Figure 2 demonstrates that most, but not all content areas have been mastered by the end of the 3rd year to the expected level for SLHS standards. Because the AuD students have a 4th year, remediation is accomplished for any students who do not pass a question. Another measure of the master of the learning outcomes from the national certification examination in Audiology. As indicated in Table 2, all students have passed the examination for the past 7 years, and the average of University of Arizona students is well above the national average (667 vs 643).

TABLE II. National Certification Examination Results in Audiology (PRAXIS)

Academic Year # taking exam % passed UA Average National Mean (SD) n
2005-2006 2 100% 645 631 (39) 400
2006-2007 3 100% 660 635 (37) 389
2007-2008 2 100% 625 635 (37) 431
2008-2009 5 100% 674 641 (34) 469
2009-2010 7 100% 673 642 (43) 532
2010-2011 0 n/a n/a 638 (32) 514
2011-2012 6 100% 723 675 (68) 748
2012-2013 11 100% 683 634 (106) 832
2013-2014 4 100% 183** 173 (11) 705
2014-2015 4 100% 177** 174 (11) 687
2015-2016 2 100% 178** 175 (11) 1078
2016-2017 7 100% 183** 174(11) 1093

n/a=No AuD students taking exam that year. PRAXIS scores range from 250-990, with a passing score 600 or greater.

**PRAXIS scoring system revised; new scores range from 100-200, with a passing score 177 or greater.

PhD Program

One of the strongest indicators is the doctoral student accomplishement of the training outcomes is the successful contribution to peer-reviewed publications. The following publications included co-authors who were graduate students (primarily PhD students, but also some AuD, Master's students, and Post-Docs. The number of publications are summarized in Figure 3 and details are posted here.

Updated date: Mon, 09/04/2017 - 12:17