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The perceived importance of anatomy and neuroanatomy in the practice of speech—Language pathology


  • Kate Martin,

    1. Department of Education, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
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  • Nicola J. Bessell,

    1. Department of Speech and Language Therapy, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
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  • Ingrid Scholten

    Corresponding author
    1. Discipline of Speech Pathology and Audiology, School of Medicine, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
    2. Discipline of Speech Pathology, School of Human, Health and Social Sciences, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Australia
    • Correspondence to: Dr. Ingrid Scholten, Speech Pathology and Audiology, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia. E-mail:

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The purpose of this study was to examine the application of anatomy and neuroanatomy knowledge to current practice of speech-language pathology (SLP), based on the perceptions of practicing SLPs, and to elicit information on participants' experiences of learning these subjects in their primary SLP degree with a view to inform potential curriculum development. A qualitative approach was taken to the collection of data. Eight practicing SLPs from four settings were interviewed. The critical incident technique, together with further probing, was used to elicit information. Interviews were transcribed and later thematically analyzed. This study found that knowledge of anatomy and neuroanatomy was perceived to be important by SLPs across all settings, to varying degrees, with a greater application in acute hospital settings. Negative experiences in studying this material were reported across all settings regardless of country of study. Participants discussed ways to increase students' motivation to learn this challenging material. Relevance of material demanded by students may be enhanced if active learning methods were used to teach anatomy/neuroanatomy, including case-based learning and with vertical and horizontal integration of material to provide a cohesive, spiral curriculum. Anat Sci Educ. 7: 28–37. © 2013 American Association of Anatomists.

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