Thinking outside the (voice) box: A case study of students' perceptions of the relevance of anatomy to speech pathology

Authors

  • Kristy A. Weir

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Biomedical Sciences, Education Research Unit, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia
    • School of Biomedical Sciences, Education Research Unit, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia
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Abstract

Speech pathology students readily identify the importance of a sound understanding of anatomical structures central to their intended profession. In contrast, they often do not recognize the relevance of a broader understanding of structure and function. This study aimed to explore students' perceptions of the relevance of anatomy to speech pathology. The effect of two learning activities on students' perceptions was also evaluated. First, a written assignment required students to illustrate the relevance of anatomy to speech pathology by using an example selected from one of the four alternative structures. The second approach was the introduction of brief “scenarios” with directed questions into the practical class. The effects of these activities were assessed via two surveys designed to evaluate students' perceptions of the relevance of anatomy before and during the course experience. A focus group was conducted to clarify and extend discussion of issues arising from the survey data. The results showed that the students perceived some course material as irrelevant to speech pathology. The importance of relevance to the students' “state” motivation was well supported by the data. Although the students believed that the learning activities helped their understanding of the relevance of anatomy, some structures were considered less relevant at the end of the course. It is likely that the perceived amount of content and surface approach to learning may have prevented students from “thinking outside the box” regarding which anatomical structures are relevant to the profession. Anat Sci Ed 2008. © 2008 American Association of Anatomists.

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