The Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders is one of eight departments in the College of Education & Professional Studies. The departmental mission is twofold. First, the department provides the academic and clinical preparation for undergraduate students in normal communication processes and introductory skill development in communication disorders. Second, the department provides a comprehensive academic and clinical program for graduate students including on-site and off-site clinical experiences that culminate in the requisite masters degree for practice in speech-language pathology nationally. The mission of the Communication Sciences & Disorders Department is to train professionals who are: well-educated and well-grounded in the content knowledge of speech language pathology and audiology, skilled in the pedagogy and interpersonal/technical skills appropriate to their profession, committed to quality education and quality of life for all clients, agents of change and innovation, and welcoming of diversity. As professionals who are dedicated to the development of individuals in society and to performing their duties in accordance with professional standards and ethics, the students and graduates of our program must be effective advocates for clients, and must be able to reflect on the learning, growth, and well-being of all persons in the various settings in which they work, based on the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of their professions. The ability to reflect on one's work and make systematic improvement as a result of that reflection is the foundation of practice for speech language pathologists and audiologists, and constitutes the core of the assessment process.
The scope of professional practice for the faculty in the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders is unique. We are aligned with the College of Education & Professional Studies mission philosophically, but our practice and training perspective, while inclusive of educational settings is much broader. In essence, our faculty consists of communication scientists with varied specialties in speech and/or language and/or hearing science who prepare graduate and undergraduate students to work across the lifespan and in varied settings. The department is guided by national standards through Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) 1, and state licensure requirements through Department of Public Instruction (DPI) 2, thus ensuring maximum job marketability in medical and/or school environments.
Ongoing assessment is an integral dimension of the department and includes quality improvement focused initiatives directed at making continuous process and program improvements. As students progress through the curriculum they are expected to apply their knowledge, skills, dispositions and use of technology to solving problems, thinking critically, and communicating effectively within diverse communication contexts.
The assessment plan for professional licensure is grounded in a developmental portfolio process, which incorporates:
- Multiple measures of the knowledge, skills and dispositions sought by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) and the Wisconsin Teacher Standards (WTS) and;
- Performance-based assessments, with formative and summative feedback given to the student regularly during his/her professional training; and
- Reflective statements by the program completer that demonstrate developmental refinement of professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions.
The graduate program has articulated a structure for the portfolio based on professional standards, rubrics that operationalize each performance level articulated above, decision tolerance levels that inform decisions that are based on the portfolio, and timeframes for the submission and evaluation for the portfolio. It is through these portfolios that the quality of each student's knowledge, skills, and dispositions is assessed, and that feedback is given to the student about her/his progress.
An essential component of the assessment process includes using assessment data for program evaluation and improvement. To accomplish this, data from the final assessment of student portfolios, plus feedback from program completers and employers on the students' attainment of knowledge, skills, and dispositions, are used to inform program improvement efforts.
Faculty members in this department hold the Ph.D., certificates of clinical competence (C.C.C.) from the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association (ASHA), and Wisconsin state licensure. The department embraces the teacher-scholar model as reflected in this institution's standards for promotion, however, this faculty also serves as master speech-language clinicians or audiologists as part of their actual professional practice on this campus. In addition to the traditional academic and scholarly expectations, this faculty is expected to engage directly in clinical teaching and service delivery at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Center for Communicative Disorders. That is, faculty practice as academicians and speech-language pathologists or audiologists--- supervising and training on-site, as opposed to models of off-site supervision in which a field clinician in the school or hospital is the primary supervisor. Clinical training and supervision is a necessary and valued aspect of the department and is necessary for its accreditation, but faculty time and contribution to this endeavor need to be recognized as a unique and significant aspect of teaching and job performance. Off-site clinical coordination and supervision in school and medical environments is another dimension of our clinical-teaching responsibility.
The multidimensional and distinct nature of the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders --- running a campus clinic and a full-time graduate program necessitates non-teaching assignments for some faculty. Graduate program and on-site and off-site clinic coordination, in addition to the administrative leadership of the department chair are significant roles in the development of leadership skills for faculty and for the efficiency of this department. We recognize service contributions as part of the teacher-scholar model in the context of individual goals working to the greater good of the department, and the larger university community.
As a small community of teacher-scholars, the faculty in Communication Sciences & Disorders engage in varied and multiple areas of basic and/or clinical research and scholarly activities with diverse products. This department regards the peer-review process as a primary way to measure excellence in teaching, research and service. Rigorous review in the context of a developmental professional model as practiced in this department facilitates growth and positive change among its faculty. We expect our faculty (1) to delineate professional goals in teaching, research and service, (2) to develop a time-line for implementation of those goals, (3) to review and critique attainment of those goals annually, and (4) to revise and redirect their goals as professional experience accrues with time.