(CS EdX Sessions) Hopf, Suzanne

Title: Pivoting Practicum in the Masters of Speech Pathology

Presenter: Dr Suzanne Hopf (Lecturer in Speech Pathology)

Co-presenter(s): Lisa Brown, Marijke Denton, Laura Doig, Caitlin Slaney, Linda Wilson

Faculty / Division: FoSH

School / Unit: Allied Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences

Session Type: Podcast Q&A

Podcast URL: Anchor.fm link

When: Thursday, 18 November @ 11:15am – 12:15pm

Where: Zoom Meeting Link


The Charles Sturt University (CSU) Master of Speech Pathology (MaSP) is a minimum three-year blended course with currently over 200 students enrolled. It is the only blended offering of a speech pathology degree in Australia where students graduate with eligibility to join Speech Pathology Australia (SPA). Completion of the MaSP requires that the distance students attend the Albury campus for five residential schools (one in first year, four in 2nd year) and three specialist clinics (all in third year). In addition, students complete 75 days of work-integrated learning split over three clinical blocks. All other learning is completed online. Course accreditation by SPA is a preference of all Speech Pathology courses in Australia, as graduates require eligibility for SPA membership for most job opportunities nationally and internationally.

The CSU MaSP was awarded the full 5-year SPA accreditation period in March 2021. Accreditation requires that students apply theory and demonstrate discrete professional behaviours and client management skills across all speech pathology range of practice areas. In the MaSP most theoretical knowledge is learned in online weekly classes and assessed in constructively aligned assessment tasks. Demonstration of application of theory (i.e., clinical skills) has traditionally been assessed in face-to-face contexts at residential schools and specialist clinics in Albury. Accreditation requires that any significant changes to course structure or delivery are reported to SPA who then determine if the change/s should alter the course accreditation status. COVID-19 had little initial impact on the MaSP as much of the day-to-day teaching was already online. However, the true impact of COVID-19 began to be felt when staff were no longer able to deliver the required face-to-face residential school and specialist clinic components of the course. Suddenly staff were faced with the dilemma of working out how to deliver 25 days of practical online learning that involved more than a dozen staff and over a hundred students located around the country in different time zones. Most importantly, staff needed to do this whilst maintaining the academic rigour and integrity of that online learning so that course accreditation was not at risk.

This presentation aims to outline the process of pivoting practicum learning and assessment activities in the MaSP from face-to-face to online delivery. In discussing this process, student and staff responses to these changes are presented. Method Two subjects that include residential schools are presented as case studies. Four staff involved with organisation and teaching of these residential schools during 2021 and 2022 residential schools provide in-depth critical reflections on how they innovated and adapted teaching methods, learning materials, and assessment practices for the online learning space. Secondly, data from bespoke student surveys of student beliefs and attitudes about residential school (administered pre- and post- residential schools in 2021 and 2022) is presented to illustrate the students’ perspectives on the changes to teaching and assessment processes and methods. Results Analysis in process. Results to be presented in November.