The four year undergraduate Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) course at UCC opened with 25 students in September 2003.
Its general outline is determined by the accreditation guidelines of the Irish association of Speech and Therapists (IASLT), the professional body of speech and language therapists in Ireland. These guidelines mandate that the following subject areas form the core knowledge base for student speech and language therapists:
Communication Disorders (Speech Pathology)
Speech and Hearing Sciences (Physics of Speech and Hearing)
Language Sciences (Linguistics)
Behavioural Sciences (Psychology)
Bio-medical Sciences (Anatomy & Physiology)
While the course is packaged into the modular structure required by the College, the department of speech and hearing sciences has planned an intra-Faculty problem-based learning (PBL) mode of delivery for a major part of the curriculum, with a significant part of the students’ learning experience being in the form of problem-based tutorials. We will however take advantage of the Faculty’s expertise, in Anatomy and Physiology especially, for the Medical Science components of the course.
UCC’s BSc Speech and Language Therapy programme is designed to ensure that graduates have the knowledge, skills and values to meet the demands and challenges of working within the healthcare profession.
Students studying on the BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy will have many different types of learning experiences, including small group learning, lectures, simulations, workshops, clinical placement, seminars, tutorials and study groups. Throughout the four years, students will be expected to demonstrate professional behaviours, independence and manage a busy timetable and workload.
Students are assessed throughout the year, and are assessed in a variety of ways on their acquisition of knowledge, skills and abilities. Some of the methods we use include oral presentations, video case exams, clinical portfolio, essays, multiple choice exams, group projects, phonetics practical, reflective papers, and research reports. Detailed written feedback is provided to each student on their assessment performance.
Students are taught by a highly qualified and enthusiastic group of academic lecturers and senior therapists on the Practice Education team. The lecturers have trained and worked locally in Cork as well as nationally and internationally. Students will benefit from being taught Anatomy in UCC’s new state of the art FLAME laboratory. We ask clinical experts from around Ireland to come to UCC to give “master classes” on their own areas of special expertise in speech and language therapy. The staff in the Department have been recognised locally and internationally for their excellence in teaching as well as research.
Problem Based Learning (PBL) is a system of integrated learning that recognises the dynamic complexity of the current information age. Professional communities worldwide expect graduates to have more than specific knowledge in particular areas; the benchmark in learning is to be able to apply knowledge in a sophisticated way to solve real-life problems efficiently. In contrast to traditional methods of teaching in which students sit passively listening, writing and performing the “consumerist” task of being an audience to a lecturer, students in a PBL curriculum are active learners who plot their own journey in the process of acquiring knowledge. Specific subject learning is replaced with a holistic stance to the achievement of knowledge. As such, it is students who set their own goals by collaborating with each other in order to solve a problem (or trigger) that is presented to them by their facilitator; thus learning is through real life contexts in which there is social interaction. To achieve this, students are divided into small groups in which brainstorming occurs to determine what the relevant issues might be in order to solve the problem. Students define questions to ask, and then go about trying to answer those questions by finding resources in the University Library, the Internet and the academic community. There are six core characteristics of PBL as identified by Barrows (1996).
Learning is student-centred
Learning is in small groups
The lecturer is a facilitator or guide
Realistic problems are presented to students to solve
The problems are tools to acquiring knowledge
New information is acquired through self-directed learning
Some of the perceived (and experienced) advantages of a PBL approach for a Speech and Language Therapy course are:
Early and explicit emphasis on enquiry-led learning
Development of independent learning strategies and skills
Opportunities for integration of knowledge from core areas, and immediate application of information to issues which are professionally relevant
Avoidance of information overload
Development of communication skills and critical thinking by means of tutorials
Development of teamwork abilities by means of tutorials
Careful monitoring of students’ performance using tutorials, reflective journals and weekly written work
Careful control of student workloads
Course modules can be found at the following link http://www.ucc.ie/calendar/medicine/med005b.html